A desire for expensive, high-status stuff is related to feelings of social status, not social status itself, and that helps why minorities are attracted to ‘bling’, say psychologists.

Previous psychology work has shown that racial minorities spend a larger portion of their incomes than do whites on conspicuous consumption and buying products that suggest high status, like cars with rims made of platinum or gold teeth inserts. But bling is not actually biological, so whites also crave expensive, high-status products – if they imagine themselves in a low-status position. Thus, corrosive “bling culture” that is not unique to urban minorities, says Philip Mazzocco, lead author of a new paper and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University’s Mansfield campus.

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