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Research Finds People Who Wear Luxury Brands Are More Likely To Be Seen As Uncooperative

If you are rocking your fresh Gucci sneakers with your LV bag… you might not want to hear this.

A study of more than 2,800 people has found that wearing luxury brands is perceived to be uncooperative. If you are all about your big-name brands and dropping that disposable income on luxury goods, you might not want to hear this. 

Researchers from the University of Michigan carried out six experiments with over 2,800 participants. They found that people who displayed luxury brands and other signals of status are more likely to be seen as uncooperative.  

“It is generally assumed that signalling status can strategically benefit people who want to appear high class – why else would people pay a premium for products with luxury logos that have no other functional benefits?” said Dr Shalena Srna, lead author of the study. 

“But it can also backfire by making them seem more self-interested.” 

In previous studies, those who appear to be wealthy have been seen as more intelligent, disciplined and competent. But, in this new study, the researchers wanted to understand whether flexing your wealth also affects people’s perception of your wiliness to collaborate.  

In one of the experiments, the participants were asked to evaluate a range of social media profiles, looking at who they thought were selfless, cooperative and generous to join their community.  

The profiles either had neutral posts, such as 'I saw the cutest puppy today! #goldenretrievers', or posts signalling a high social status, such as 'Heading to Madrid! #firstclass #luxury'. 

For the posts that showed off a higher social status, participants were less likely to recommend the profile to join their community.  

“This experiment shows that people are attuned to when the value of luxury logos switches from positive to negative,” Dr Srna said. 

“Not only are people strategic about when to signal status, they are also strategic about modesty. 

“Posting about your luxury purchases and expensive vacations on Instagram or TikTok may help you to persuade others, intimidate competitors and succeed on the dating market - at least for men. 

“But it could also signal to potential friends or future employers that you are unlikely to think about the needs of others,” Dr Srna said. 

“This becomes a tricky balancing act for people who may want to impress others while also demonstrating that they can be a "team player".”