Buying Crap to Fit In

by Liz Colville

We buy things, and sometimes we snort cocaine, and sometimes we eat chicken feet, to fit in, according to a study reported in the Journal of Consumer Research. In one of several experiments by the study authors,

people were paired with partners who left the study. People who thought their partners left because they disliked them were more willing to spend money on school spirit wristbands than people who thought their partners left for an appointment.

It’s more interesting to me why the people might have thought the other people “disliked” them, but apparently the study authors aren’t interested in that. They’re more interested in how people “use consumption to help them commence new social relationships.” So insecure people buy shit! Whoop-de-do. But let’s not forget that companies also spend a lot of their time trying to “fit in,” making many of us look far less trendsetting and hip than we think.

Also, one of the experiment outcomes sounds more positive than the authors may want us believe: one group of test subjects was found to be “willing to pay more than others for chicken feet, an unappealing food item liked by their Asian partners.” Um, maybe they were just trying to be polite, and, in the process, try something new? [Via]

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