Social Psychology

So, it’s Saturday afternoon and you’re out shopping. You’ve finally made it to the queue to pay for the Everest-rivalling mound of clothes that you’re carrying and you feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever because – spring. Then suddenly a woman carrying the electric blue Saint Laurent alligator tote bag rudely cuts in front of you. What do you do? Now imagine the same situation however, this time the inconsiderate line-cutter is carrying a bag from River Island. 
Now you’re probably thinking ‘what on earth does the bag have to do with anything?’. You’re sure you would react in the exact same way in both situations. Well, you’d be wrong.

Research suggests that people are more docile when confronted with luxury items. In one particular study, researchers driving either an expensive luxury car or a more affordable economy car stopped at a green light.

​Drivers behind the economy car immediately began sounding their horns in annoyance with some going as far as rear-ending the poor researcher. However, when drivers found themselves stationed behind the luxury car patience was definitely a virtue. 50% of drivers in this case waited in silence until the car drove on, failing to sound their horn even once. 

So what is the reason behind this compliance?
​The researchers suggest that such symbols of wealth can point towards more access to resources. In our case you may subconsciously believe that the Saint Laurent bag lady may know someone who knows someone who knows someone who could get you banned from the store for life for causing a scene (God no), so you keep quiet. Another possible reason is that luxury items can cause owners to portray an element of superiority which may create a feeling of intimidation in those that they encounter.


Have you ever been in a similar situation? How did you react?

Give us your thoughts and opinions below.