The Devil Wears Prada? Effects of Exposure to Luxury Goods on Cognition and Decision Making

16 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2009

See all articles by Roy Y. J. Chua

Roy Y. J. Chua

Harvard Business School, Organizational Behavior Unit

Xi (Canny) Zou

London Business School

Date Written: November 2, 2009

Abstract

Although the concept of luxury has been widely discussed in social theories and marketing research, relatively little research has directly examined the psychological consequences of exposure to luxury goods. This paper demonstrates that mere exposure to luxury goods increases individuals’ propensity to prioritize self-interests over others’ interests, influencing the decisions they make. Experiment 1 found that participants primed with luxury goods were more likely than those primed with non-luxury goods to endorse business decisions that benefit themselves but could potentially harm others. Using a word recognition task, Experiment 2 further demonstrates that exposure to luxury is likely to activate self-interest but not necessarily the tendency to harm others. Implications of these findings were discussed.

Keywords: Luxury goods, Cognition, Decision making, Self-interest

Suggested Citation

Chua, Roy Y. J. and Zou, Xi, The Devil Wears Prada? Effects of Exposure to Luxury Goods on Cognition and Decision Making (November 2, 2009). Harvard Business School Organizational Behavior Unit Working Paper No. 10-034. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1498525 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1498525

Roy Y. J. Chua (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School, Organizational Behavior Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Xi Zou

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

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