Owners of cars from high-status brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are more likely to be "self-centred men who are argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and unempathetic", according to new research from the University of Helsinki.
Additionally, owners of these cars were deemed to be "more disagreeable" individuals who saw themselves as "superior" to others, which could explain their tendency to flout traffic regulations.
As part of the study, researchers from the University of Helsinki's Swedish School of Social Science asked 1892 Finnish consumers to answer questions about their cars, consumption habits and wealth.
Their answers were then analysed via the Five-Factor Model – a well-known framework assessing personality traits in five key domains: openness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness
The University described the findings as "unambiguous", with the desire to own high-status cars clearly linked to the aforementioned negative personality traits.
“[T]hose whose personality was deemed more disagreeable were more drawn to high-status cars," Jan-Erik Lönnqvist, professor of social psychology, said.
"These are people who often see themselves as superior and are keen to display this to others.”
Interestingly, the connection between self-centred personality traits and high-status cars only existed amongst men and not women, something Lönnqvist believes could be explained by the fact women attach less significance to cars as status symbols than men.
But it wasn't all bad news – both male and female owners of high-status cars were also found to be conscientious individuals.
The conscientiousness trait tends to imply people who are "respectable, ambitious, reliable and well-organised" and perform well at work.
“The link is presumably explained by the importance they attach to high quality. All makes of car have a specific image, and by driving a reliable car they are sending out the message that they themselves are reliable,” Lönnqvist explained.
Lönnqvist was inspired to conduct the study after noticing that drivers of "fast German cars" were "most likely to run a red light, not give way to pedestrians and generally drive recklessly and too fast".
“These personality traits explain the desire to own high-status products, and the same traits also explain why such people break traffic regulations more frequently than others,” says Lönnqvist.
This latest research research follows several studies that have highlighted the connection between expensive cars and reckless driving habits.
NRMA research from 2019 found owners of luxury sedans (classified as those that are European and over the $60,000 mark) had a 29 per cent higher rate of collision frequency compared to all other vehicles.
A well-publicised 2012 study from the University of California, Berkeley, found drivers of luxury cars were less accommodating of pedestrians, with those in BMWs found to be particularly inconsiderate.
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