Kanye West rapped about the Black community’s curious relationship with consumerism in his song, "All Falls Down," when he said, “We'll buy a lot of clothes when we don't really need ‘em/ things we buy to cover up what's inside/ 'cause they make us hate our self and love they wealth.”
Now, the findings of a new study may have given Kanye’s lyrics some scientific backing. An experiment found that when treated poorly, or provided bad service, African-American consumers were more likely than whites to voluntarily pay more for goods and services.
According to researchers, when African-Americans were treated well, they did not indicate a willingness to pay more for goods or services even when race was made an issue. But when the African-American subjects were treated poorly and were presented with stereotypes affiliated with their race, most indicated a willingness to pay more for products than white participants or other African-Americans who were not presented with stereotypes.
The study, Status, Race and Money: The Impact of Racial Hierarchy on Willingness-to-Pay, will be published in the forthcoming issue of the journal, Psychological Science, and was conducted by professors from the University of San Diego's School of Business Administration and the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. Researchers say that although African-Americans were the only minority group studied, the findings are relevant and applicable to any group that has been historically placed at a disadvantage.
"Minority consumers have tremendous buying power. We want to draw attention to the fact that these downstream forces of discrimination are important and to bring it to the attention of anyone who feels disadvantaged in the marketplace that he/she should not feel the need to prove themselves to people who don't deserve it by paying more," researcher and USC professor Jennifer Overbeck said.
(Photo: REUTERS/Stelios Varias)