The role of social status and testosterone in human conspicuous consumption

Wu, Y, Eisenegger, C, Sivanathan, N, Crockett, M J and Clark, L (2017) The role of social status and testosterone in human conspicuous consumption. Scientific Reports, 7 (1). ISSN 2045-2322 OPEN ACCESS


Conspicuous consumption refers to the phenomenon where individuals purchase goods for signalling social status, rather than for its inherent functional value. This study (n = 166 male participants) investigated how the outcome of a social competition influenced conspicuous consumption, and its association with competition-induced testosterone reactivity. Winning a competition increased both explicit and implicit preferences for higher-status vs. lower-status products, using both natural stimuli (prestigious cars) and laboratory-tagged stimuli of matched value (university T-shirts). Competition also influenced behaviour in an Ultimatum Game, such that winners were more likely to reject unfair offers. Competition outcomes had no discernible influence upon salivary testosterone levels, and neither basal testosterone levels nor testosterone reactivity induced by competition predicted the conspicuous consumption measures. Our data indicate that winning a competition lead to more dominant behaviour, albeit in a manner that is not statistically regulated by testosterone, possibly through increased feeling of entitlement.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
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© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature

Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 10:27
Date of first compliant deposit: 14 Sep 2017
Subjects: Competition
People (Behavioural science)
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2024 01:29

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