What is the psychology behind the decision to choose a high status car such as a BMW, Mercedes, Lamborghini or perhaps a larger vehicle like an SUV?
To some people a car is nothing more than a tool or necessity, a buying decision in this case may rely mainly on factors like, price, space, reliability, overall running costs, perhaps even the colour of the car.
To other people a car is much more than that, it can be an extension or expression of that persons priorities and social status. When options and choices come into play the car someone drives can reveal psychological motivations and personality traits of that owner.
What Does Owning A High Status Car Mean?
People often buy and drive these cars because of the badge, which translates as seeking high social status or they want to been seen as high status. This is also strongly related to seeking approval, seeking validation, ego gratification and generally validating themselves based on common perceptions. This shows a strong outward focus in their decision making. These people are likely to be very social, or very connected and dependent on their social circle.
To seek social status is basically trying to remain high or climb higher in a group or social hierarchy. This desire for social status usually suggests an extroverted personality, if not extroverted then their sense of self/identity and self esteem is likely to rely heavily on the opinions and views of others.
The above also often applies to large cars such as SUVs. Size can also suggest status, money and power. Large vehicles can intimidate others especially if they are driven aggressively. This falls into the realms of psychological motivators such as ego gratification and the desire to have power over others. These are likely to be two of the most dominate motivators that they have.
These are people that are likely to be very much clued into the present moment, playing a lot of attention to others, also conformists and traditionalists. They tend to follow a rigid set of rules, in this case the common rules that define popular social standards and social status. They’re likely to be low on a trait known as openness, they judge situations and people very quickly and are often close minded. Those who are more close minded are less likely to go against the norms of society.
To buy a car because of the badge shows a degree of shortsightedness, and a narrow focus. They don’t think about the big picture and they are not likely to be someone that thinks in any great deal of depth about life, or to question norms. They will be motivated to get a little bit higher up on the status ladder, sometimes at the expense of others.
The higher the desire for something like social status, it tends to push other motivations and considerations further down the list, like showing consideration for other road users. Have you ever noticed that many BMW and SUV drivers are often aggressive drivers? this is arrogant, they believe they own the road type of belief. Their desire for status, ego gratification and a need to feel important/have control over others, makes them less considerate to others, especially if they have a disagreeable temperament.
Many of these high status car makes are also perceived as being luxurious and more comfortable, which could also be a reason.
Also a higher price tag suggests and is associated with quality, safety and perhaps reliability, which could aid in a purchase decision.