The Situationist

Situation of Consumption

Posted by The Situationist Staff on July 8, 2008

Lee Dye of ABC News wrote a fascinating story about a revealing study that contends that the more powerless we are feeling, the more likely we are to try to reclaim a sense of power and status through the gadgets that we purchase. The following excerpts are taken from the ABC story.

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Want to know why you just bought that gadget that you really can’t afford? Because you were feeling like a wimp.

A new study out of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., shows that the more often we feel powerless, the more likely we are to spend ourselves into the poor house. The study, published in the current edition of the Journal of Consumer Research, contends that when the boss puts you down, you feel so robbed of power that you’re more likely to go out and buy yourself some status symbol. When that happens, you’re willing to pay a lot more for it than if you felt powerful, a process the researchers call “compensatory consumption.”

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If his study is on target, when the sense of power goes down, so does your wallet. That’s partly because we tend to associate power with status. So, if we lose power, the researchers contend, we may try to make up for that loss, at least emotionally, by buying a status symbol.

* * *

If his study is on target, when the sense of power goes down, so does your wallet. That’s partly because we tend to associate power with status. So, if we lose power, the researchers contend, we may try to make up for that loss, at least emotionally, by buying a status symbol.

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To read the entire article click here. For a related Situationist post, check out “Why You Bought That,” Just Choose It!” and “The Science of Addiction, The Myth of Choice.” Image by by Giando [♀] Flickr.

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2 Responses to “Situation of Consumption”

  1. In relationship to business building I termed it ‘competitive consumption.’

    http://susancartierliebel.typepad.com/build_a_solo_practice/2007/05/competitive_con.html

    It’s almost on point with this article but relates to bad business decisions in the work world..primarily the solo practitioner.

    There are links to other posts on the topic you may find interesting.

  2. [...] Situation of Consumption « The Situationist No surprise there. I had this theory freshman year in my intellectual history class, but prolly shouldn’t have communicated it the way I did to my overweight TA … (tags: PrintMeOut) [...]

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