The Consumption Cycle and the Quest for Social Ascension: A Psychological Perspective

The Consumption Cycle and the Quest for Social Ascension: A Psychological Perspective

In modern society, consumption plays a pivotal role in individual identity and the pursuit of an enhanced socio-economic status. The consumption cycle, navigating various phases of purchasing behavior, impels people to acquire products that not only fulfill their needs but also elevate their social standing. This dynamic can be elucidated through diverse psychological models, all converging towards a common objective: the augmentation of socio-economic status.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and the Craving for Recognition

Derived from Maslow's hierarchy, the desire for social recognition emerges as a fundamental need. Individuals tend to strengthen their position in the social hierarchy and solidify their identity by acquiring products such as jewelry, designer clothing, or luxury goods.

Howard and Sheth's Consumer Behavior Theory

This model underscores the intricate interplay between social, psychological, and situational factors. As individuals strive for a higher socio-economic status, the purchase of prestigious brands or exclusive products is influenced by social cues and personal lifestyle preferences.

Engel-Kollat-Blackwell Model and the Phases of Consumption

The acquisition of products accentuating social status can be viewed as the result of various phases, starting from the discovery of a desire to the utilization of the acquired item, culminating in the eventual habituation effect triggering a new consumption cycle.

Tri-component Attitude Model

Attitudes toward prestigious products are shaped by cognitive elements (quality and brand image), affective components (emotional connection), and behavioral elements (previous experiences). The selection of these products is influenced by the positive attitude, intended to enhance social status.

Theory of Planned Behavior and Conscious Consumption

In making conscious decisions to acquire products that elevate socio-economic status, attitudes, subjective norms (societal expectations), and perceived behavioral control play pivotal roles. The planning of consumption is influenced by the conviction that the purchase can achieve these social goals.

Evolutionary Perspective and the Urge for Higher Rank

The human inclination to enhance socio-economic status can also be explained from an evolutionary standpoint. Historically, a higher social rank increased survival likelihood and improved partner selection for reproduction.

SOR Model and the Justification of Purchase

The SOR model (Stimulus-Organism-Response) illustrates how unconscious processes lead to conscious actions. For instance, witnessing a luxurious product (stimulus) might activate unconscious desires for social ascension (organism). The conscious decision to make a purchase (response) is then "justified" as a means to satisfy these unconscious desires.

Summarized: The psychological models illuminate that the consumption cycle is not solely rooted in functional needs but is profoundly influenced by the pursuit of social ascension. The selection of specific products is propelled by the desire for recognition and prestige, and the cycle repeats as new desires and needs emerge. It is inherent in human nature to define and improve socio-economic status through consumption, and these psychological models provide insights into the intricate mechanisms underlying this pursuit.

blog image

Adad-Nirari Khochaba


January 15, 2024


Consumer BehaviorPsychologySocial StatusValueSocial Ascension