File image

London - Been forgotten by your friends or passed over for a promotion? You may find solace in a spot of retail therapy – but only the most expensive sort.

Women who feel ignored are, it seems, more likely to choose high-end labels such as Armani and Versace over high street options.

A study found that those who feel overlooked and out of the loop seek attention by buying branded designer clothes from names such as Gucci, Dior and Prada.

The US researchers discovered that when an individual’s need for “control and a meaningful existence” is threatened, they tend to act in provocative and attention-seeking ways to reaffirm their sense of belonging in society.

Or in other words, they splash out on Dolce & Gabbana rather than Marks & Spencer to ensure they are noticed.

And the flashier the outfit, the better, with women engaging in showy displays of consumption to get attention – and many falling into the trap of buying only branded clothes from well-known labels.

But the effect only applies to those who feel ignored. In contrast, those who feel rejected by society do not display any particular interest in designer labels, but do care more about helping others.

The researchers, at the universities of Houston-Clear Lake and Texas, wanted to find out what happens when consumers experience social exclusion and if it influences their spending habits. They conducted four experiments which were designed to leave those taking part feeling either ignored or rejected.

One group of participants was asked to remember their own real-life experiences of social rejection. Another was made to feel ignored or overlooked in exchanges simulated by the researchers.

Afterwards, the participants took separate surveys designed to assess behavioural intentions and actual behaviour.

The study’s authors, Professor Jaehoon Lee and Professor L Shrum, said: “Being ignored increased preferences for clothing with conspicuous brand logos, but it had no effect on pro-social behaviour.

“In contrast, being rejected increased pro-social behaviour, but had no effect for clothing with conspicuous brand logos.

“We propose that when relational needs, such as self-esteem and belonging, are primarily threatened, people attempt to fortify those needs by feeling, thinking, and behaving in a pro-social, affiliative manner, because pro-social acts such as helping others increase interpersonal attractiveness and help reconnect with society.”

But the researchers said that when an individual’s need for control and a meaningful existence is threatened and they feel ignored, they act out in provocative and attention-seeking ways, such as wearing flashy clothing.

The authors added: “The need to belong is considered to be universal across cultures.

“One need only look at the clothing of college students, much of which displays affiliation through school logos and colours, to see its magnitude.” – Daily Mail