SEOUL, Aug. 14 (Korea Bizwire) – A report published by the Korea Development Institute found that those who are likely to compare themselves with other people are vulnerable to conspicuous consumption and have less satisfaction with their life. But this tendency could also make them donate more as a way to show off their generosity.
The Korea Development Institute conducted a survey to analyze the tendency among South Koreans to compare themselves with others. The study surveyed 3,000 adults in their age between 20 and 69 across the country from October to November last year.
According to the study, South Koreans’ intense tendency to compare themselves with others has both positive and negative sides: it may be a good incentive to continue to improve themselves while it may have a bad influence on their satisfaction in life. The study said that 36 percent of respondents answered that it is important to compare their standards of living with those of others. That is, four in ten Koreans tend to compare themselves with others frequently.
When asked how important it is to compare their life with others’, 3.3 percent of respondents cited it is very important, and 32.3 percent said it is important.
The report said that people who are likely to make comparisons between themselves and others favor material values and focus only on their goals. When asked where they want to sit during a dinner with business associates, most of the people answered that they want to sit next to a boss while refusing to sit next to an intern.
What is Conspicuous Consumption?
Conspicuous consumption is the spending of money on and the acquiring of luxury goods and services to publicly display economic power—either the buyer’s income or the buyer’s accumulated wealth. Sociologically, to the conspicuous consumer, such a public display of discretionary economic power is a means either of attaining or of maintaining a given social status. Moreover, invidious consumption, a more specialized sociologic term, denotes the deliberate conspicuous consumption of goods and services intended to provoke the envy of other people, as a means of displaying the buyer’s superior socio-economic status. (Wikipedia)
People who show a tendency to compare themselves with others are susceptible to overspending to lead an outwardly affluent life. When it is assumed that level 1 means the lowest degree of tendency to compare and level 5 refers to the highest degree of tendency, according to the report, the rate of time to do shopping per week increases by 9.2 percent every level, and the rate of consumption expenditure per month rises by 5.1 percent per level.
In addition, the rate of annual consumption expenditure on durable goods such as vehicles or expensive gadgets that show one’s economic status increases by 41.7 percent every level. The rate of spending on eating out also rises by 10.1 percent per level.
Nevertheless, the report found that their happiness and satisfaction in life is quite low. When it was assumed that the degree of happiness increases from 0 to 10 points, 0.237 point falls when a level increases. All factors that make the degree of satisfaction in life including hobbies, the relationship with a partner, family friends, work and financial conditions give them low satisfaction. Moreover, those who have stronger tendency to compare themselves with others are vulnerable to the sense of relative deprivation which makes many Koreans feel unhappy with their life.
The report pointed out that this tendency also has a bright side. The tendency can easily make those who tend to compare themselves with others give donations or control themselves since they are strongly conscious of what other people think about them. The report also cited that these people prefer “let everyone know what you are doing good” to “don’t let the left hand not know what the right hand is doing.”
The report concluded that the government needs to study these tendencies and utilize them in formulating and implementing policies. Then it could help achieve the goal of policy without spending considerable expenditure.
By Veronica Huh (firstname.lastname@example.org)