How Your Luxury Car May be Driving away Friends

The type of car you drive may have a bearing on your driving fears and driving anxiety, with some vehicles helping you to feel safer and more in control. You may also think the type of car you drive plays a role in your ability to attract new friends, and that’s true, too – just not in the way many people tend to believe.

A study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that luxury vehicles, designer handbags and other status symbols people often think will make them look socially attractive to others to them can actually have the opposite effect. They may repel people from you rather than draw them to you.

What the Study Said 

Researchers launched a series of six studies that involved two different groups of participants. One group presented themselves as potential friends, while the other group evaluated who they would pick as friends.

The status items scientists chose for the study were two different T-shirts. Both shirts had plain script featuring a company name. One T-shirt had “Walmart” written on it while the other read “Saks Fifth Avenue.”

Researchers then asked the first group of people what shirt they would wear to a picnic if they were trying to attract new friends.

  • 76 percent of the people hoping to attract friends chose to wear the “Saks Fifth Avenue” shirt.

The second group was then asked if they would be more likely to be drawn to a person wearing a “Walmart” shirt or a “Saks Fifth Avenue” shirt.

  • 64 percent of the people choosing friends would pick the person wearing the “Walmart” shirt.

People hoping to attract friends consistently opted for higher status symbols, while those choosing friends were more inclined to pick people with lower or neutral status symbols.

Inadvertently Hurting Ourselves?

If you’re investing in a high-end car, designer duds or other status symbols in the hopes of making new friends, you may want to rethink your decision. Inadvertently repelling new pals could end up hurting our overall well-being, since close friendships and connections with others are an important element in our lives.

Why people would choose high-status items to attract friends is the next topic researchers aim to investigate. One theory could be that people don’t always look at the perspective of other people who are evaluating them for possible friendships.

Another could be they trying to make a favorable first impression without realizing the status symbol may be having the opposite effect.

This doesn’t mean you need to avoid items that double as status symbols, or get rid of your fancy new car in favor of an old, beat-up model. If your status symbols make you happy, by all means keep them. Just know if you’re attempting to use them as a way to attract new friends, the tactic is likely to folks away instead.