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Psychology and Marketing





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Status consumption, the act of consuming market offerings aimed at conferring status on the consumer, has often been portrayed as the opposite of charitable donation behavior. In a departure from prior works, this study examines the connection between these two seemingly contradictory behaviors. The results of seven studies (including one in the Supporting Information Appendix) demonstrate that status consumption, considered a self-centered behavior, leads to increased charitable donations, a prosocial outcome. This effect is driven by a process of empowerment (i.e., increase in the sense of power that consumers derive from status consumption). The underlying mechanism of empowerment is examined using both mediation and moderation methods. Alternative explanations based on objective and perceived wealth, affect, guilt, static and objective power, and self-presentation concerns are ruled out. Further investigation demonstrates that mere ownership of a status good is not sufficient; the consumption of the said product needs to take place for the effect to occur. Moreover, the predicted effect is attenuated for consumers who only desire but do not have status consumption and for those who believe in high power distance. Taken together, this study advances our understanding of status consumption by demonstrating how and when it empowers consumers to donate.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Status consumption and charitable donations: The power of empowerment. Psychology & Marketing, 39(6), 1116–1128, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.