Why do black and brown people love 20-inch chrome rims, iced-out watches, and the names of second-rate “designers” (Tommy Hilfiger!) pasted across their chests?

Insecurity, it seems.

But, says a new study on bling, this stuff isn't just for minorities this holiday shopping season. Nope:

According to new research from Philip Mazzocco, assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University, white people also get blingy when they believe their own socioeconomic status is challenged.

The attraction, then, is based more on class than race or ethnicity, according to the paper to be published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Consumer Psychology.


Nothing says 'status' like an iced-out Casio.; Credit: Adrian Ruiz / Flickr

Nothing says 'status' like an iced-out Casio.; Credit: Adrian Ruiz / Flickr

Minorities don't buy high-status products because of some 'bling culture.' It is a basic psychological tendency that we all share when we're feeling inferior in some part of our life. Anyone who is feeling low in status is going to try to compensate. And in our capitalistic, consumption-oriented society, one way to compensate is to buy high-status products.

When white students were asked to imagine themselves as “low-status” people, they were more likely to rate “high-status” products highly, according to the research.

The academic thinks there might be something to the idea that higher self-esteem in some areas can help consumers resist the lure of consumer products.

That, in fact, is the topic of his next study, according to a summary:

Mazzocco said future studies will examine whether people can resist conspicuous consumption when they call to mind parts of their lives where they feel they have high status.

So, as you shop for the holidays, make sure and think highly of yourselves, people. It could save you some money.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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