The influence of three fundamental factors on conspicuous consumption

Kim, Sungeun (Ange)
Kim, Jungkeun
Marshall, Roger
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

Prior research has shown various factors – from a range of research streams – that influence conspicuous consumption, yet the core factors that lead to conspicuous consumption are still not well understood. This dissertation investigates more deeply than hitherto the antecedents that influence conspicuous consumption, through consideration of three fundamental factors derived from a systematic literature review; self-focus versus other-focus, self-transformation motives versus self-expression motives and kin care mindset.

A series of eight experiments, including an experiment using eye-tracking, was conducted by employing size of logo as a proxy variable for the measurement of conspicuous consumption behavior. With regard to the selction of participants, I used undergraduates and panelists from Amazon Mechanical Turk. The experiment findings suggest that individuals who place more emphasis on external values (other-focused, self-transformational motives) desire conspicuous products that possess social value more than those individuals who place more emphasis on internal values (self-focused, self-expression motives and kin care mindset).

More specifically, this research finds three important facts. First, because other-focus individuals are more concerned about potential social criticism than self-focus individuals, such individuals desire more conspicuous products that have social value, in order to prevent any possible social harm (Experiments 1 and 2). Second, because a self-transformation motivation induces individuals to pursue an ideal self more than does a self-expressive motivation, individuals desire conspicuous products that are highly associated with an ideal self more when they motivate to transform themselves (Experiments 3, 4 and 5). Lastly, when the kin care mindset is active, individuals desire conspicuous products less, because such a mindset induces individuals to prioritise infants over external values such as pursuing social fame. The data further shows the boundary condition that when conspicuous products are baby-related, women with a kin care mindset crave conspicuous products more than in the control condition. However, because men are less psychologically connected with babies, this pattern is not observed in men (Experiments 6, 7 and 8). Together, this research builds on prior research on conspicuous consumption by deepening understanding of the fundamental factors that drive this behaviour.

Conspicuous consumption , Luxury
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