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Psychologists say wearing pricey designer clothes could be bad for your career

Scientists say people who boast wealth by displaying luxury brands appear self-interested and uncooperative.



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By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Wearing designer labels could be bad for your career, according to new research.

Turning up in the latest Stella McCartney dress or Hugo Boss suit puts bosses off, psychologists say.

People who boast wealth by displaying luxury brands appear self-interested and uncooperative.

Modesty leaves the best impression when it comes to convincing others that they are team players.

Lead author Dr. Shalena Srna, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Michigan, said: "It is generally assumed signaling status can strategically benefit people who want to appear high class.

"Why else would people pay a premium for products with luxury logos that have no other functional benefits? But it can also backfire by making them seem more self-interested.

"In social situations that depend on cooperation, people will often choose to present themselves more modestly."

It adds to evidence that knowing how to hit the right note is becoming increasingly difficult.

Work environments are becoming more and more casual - especially if you're looking to get on at a start-up or tech firm.

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The findings were based on a series of experiments involving more than 2,800 participants recruited online from across the US.

In one, 395 individuals were asked to evaluate social media profiles to find cooperative, selfless and generous people to join their community.

They were then randomly assigned to view unassuming or bragging examples. The former, for instance, might read "I saw the cutest puppy today! #goldenretrievers."

The latter would contain the same neutral language but also include posts about flash cars, clothing, food or travel such as "Heading to Madrid! #firstclass #luxury."

The researchers found those exposed to these were less likely to recommend that person to be a part of their group.

They also rated them as wealthier, more concerned with their status and less likely to care about others.

In another test, 1,345 volunteers were asked to imagine they were creating their own social media profile - and they needed to choose what to wear for their picture.

They were told they were trying to be selected for an online group - but only half were informed they needed to seem extremely cooperative to be successful.

They were then given the choice of appearing in designer clobber such as Prada or Gucci, non-luxury gear like Sketchers or Old Navy or unbranded clothing.

Participants presenting themselves as team players were much less likely to choose to wear luxury clothes than the ones who were not.

But people were equally likely to opt for a non-luxury brand whether cooperation was emphasized or not, the researchers found.

Dr. Srna said: "This experiment shows people are attuned to when the value of luxury logos switches from positive to negative.

"Not only are people strategic about when to signal status, they are also strategic about modesty."

Modesty may be key when co-operation is essential, she explained. But status signaling was found to have advantages in some cases.

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While participants were less likely to choose someone who signals their wealth or status to join a group seeking cooperative members,

Participants also tended to choose status signallers when they were told the group wanted a competitive team member.

It suggests people will change how they present themselves depending on their social goals.

This is especially important to consider in the era of social media - when they can easily share their wealth and status with large audiences.

Added Dr. Srna: "Posting about your luxury purchases and expensive vacations on Instagram or TikTok may help you to persuade others, intimidate competitors and succeed on the dating market - at least for men.

"But it could also signal to potential friends or future employers that you are unlikely to think about the needs of others.

"This becomes a tricky balancing act for people who may want to impress others while also demonstrating they can be a 'team player.'"

The study is in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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