Indulging the self: positive consequences of luxury consumption

Year of publication: 2012
Author(s): Liselot Hudders & Mario Pandelaere
Appeared in: Springer Gabler

Abstract

Spending resources on luxury consumption hinders individuals to spend resources on more rewarding activities, such as spending time with friends and family, work less, or spend more money on inconspicuous consumption that may enhance the quality of our lives to a greater extent. In addition, both their high cost and the existence of several mechanisms that may limit their long-term impact on subjective well-being (e.g. hedonic treadmill) make it puzzling why consumers continue to spend large amounts of their income on luxury brands. We propose that that luxury consumption may have specific short-term rewards that serve as positive reinforcements for luxury consumption. In particular, we argue that obtaining a luxury brand may (temporarily) enhance one’s self-esteem. As the temporary satisfaction of material wants further increases the probability that such wants re-emerge after a short while, the enhanced self-esteem may serve to reward the pursuit of luxurious possessions and reinforce this behavior.

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