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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

The third person effect in perceptions of effectiveness of conspicuous consumption on perceived status

Published: May 27, 2020


Samuel Franssens, Rennes School of Business; Siegfried Dewitte, KU Leuven


conspicuous consumption; perceived status; third person effect


This paper investigates people’s perceptions of the effectiveness of conspicuous consumption for gaining status. Based on research on the third person effect, we hypothesize that people think that others are more positively impressed by conspicuous consumption than they themselves report to be. Five scenario experiments, with differing manipulations and measures, find evidence for this hypothesis. These findings raise the question of whether conspicuous consumption rests on a collective illusion where people report not to be impressed by conspicuous consumption themselves but mistakenly perceive others to be, or whether people correctly estimate the effectiveness of conspicuous consumption on others and underestimate the effect of conspicuous consumption on their own behavior.