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Is ‘Being Busy’ the New Status Symbol?

Is ‘Being Busy’ the New Status Symbol?

Twenty-first century Americans appear to have a new philosophy on characteristics associated with status and prestige. And, our view is quite the opposite of our European counterparts.

Long gone are the days when a life of material excess and endless leisure time signified a well-to-do reputation.

According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, Americans increasingly perceive busy and overworked people as having high status.

“We examined how signaling busyness at work impacts perceptions of status in the eyes of others,” write authors Silvia Bellezza (Columbia Business School), Neeru Paharia and Anat Keinan (both Harvard University).

“We found that the more we believe that people have the opportunity for social affirmation based on hard work, the more we tend to think that people who skip leisure and work all the time are of higher standing.”

High-status Americans a generation ago might have boasted about their lives of leisure, but today they’re more likely to engage in humblebrag, telling those around them how they “have no life” or desperately need a vacation.

To research this phenomenon, investigators performed a series of studies among participants mostly from Italy and the U.S.

While busyness at work is associated with high status among Americans, the effect is reversed for Italians, who still view a leisurely life as representative of high status.

Further, the authors found that the use of products and services showcasing one’s busyness can also convey status.

For instance, the online shopping and delivery grocery brand Peapod signals status just as much as expensive brands, such as Whole Foods, by virtue of its associations with time-saving and a busy lifestyle.

“We uncovered an alternative type of conspicuous consumption that operated by shifting the focus from the preciousness and scarcity of goods to the preciousness and scarcity of individuals,” the authors said.

“People’s social-mobility beliefs are psychologically driven by the perception that busy individuals possess desirable characteristics, leading them to be viewed as scarce and in demand.”

Source: Journal of Consumer Research

Is ‘Being Busy’ the New Status Symbol?

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2017). Is ‘Being Busy’ the New Status Symbol?. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2017/03/27/is-being-busy-the-new-status-symbol/118241.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 27 Mar 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Mar 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.