“Effects of the Density of Status Distribution on Conspicuous and Inconspicuous Consumption By Low-Status Consumers”

Nailya Ordabayeva, INSEAD, France
Pierre Chandon, INSEAD, France
In five studies, we demonstrate that a dense distribution of status in society, in which most people have similar status, increases the happiness and decreases the envy of people who are least well-off, but nevertheless increases their conspicuous consumption. This happens because conspicuous consumption enables people at the bottom of the pyramid to "leapfrog" ahead of more people (hence gain more status) when most people have an average status than when the distribution of status is wide. This effect disappears when consumption is inconspicuous; when non-positional (vs. positional) utility is primed; and when one is compared to friends (vs. rivals).
[ to cite ]:
Nailya Ordabayeva and Pierre Chandon (2009) ,"“Effects of the Density of Status Distribution on Conspicuous and Inconspicuous Consumption By Low-Status Consumers”", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 12-15.