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Abstract

We studied the incidence and correlates of status projection—use of material possessions to emphasize social status to others—among 100 adolescents in a historical context of rising affluence. Participants listed 10 possessions, rated each for its value as a status symbol, and chose five to discuss with another participant in a forthcoming interaction. Participants selected especially those of their possessions that they had rated higher in status value (p < .001). This effect was stronger among those reporting upward or downward change in their families' socioeconomic status (p < .05), greater actual-ideal self-discrepancies (p < .05), and stronger commitment to materialistic values (p < .01); moreover, the effect of changing status was stronger among higher materialists (p < .05). These results indicate that people self-complete through presenting their possessions selectively to others, and they help to clarify the precise role of identity commitment in symbolic self-completion. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.