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Symbols of Status: What They Mean and How to Use Them

Status symbols are a way for people to communicate their social rank, or hierarchy, to others. They can be objects, behaviors, or attire that denote wealth, power, or popularity.

In some cases, they may also communicate negative attributes, such as being dangerous or immoral. While status symbols vary across cultures, some symbols are nearly universal.

This article will discuss status symbols and how you can use them to your advantage!

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Symbols of Status: Why Every Culture Has Them

Symbols of status are everywhere. They’re in the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the homes we live in, and the schools we attend. They’re even in the food we eat.

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In every culture, certain things signify wealth, power, and prestige. In some cultures, it’s a nice car or a big house. In others, it’s a Rolex watch or a designer handbag. And in some cultures, it’s a yam.

Yes, you read that correctly. In southern Nigeria, the yam is seen as a symbol of status and wealth. That is because yams are challenging to grow and require much care and attention. They’re also a precious commodity.

So, why do symbols of status matter? Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of social symbols.

What Is The Meaning of “Social Symbol”?

A social symbol is an object, action, or event that conveys a specific meaning to a particular culture. In other words, it is a sign that represents something else.

For example, in many Western cultures, the handshake is a social symbol that represents greeting someone or sealing a deal. In contrast, in some Asian cultures, the bow is a social symbol with similar meaning.

Social symbols can be either positive or negative. They can represent something good, such as love, hope, and peace. Or they can mean something terrible, such as hate, violence, and war.

Painting of “Culture and Symbols”

Symbols are often used to convey messages without the use of words. This is especially useful when a message needs to be given quickly or to people who speak different languages.

The meaning of social symbols can change over time. For example, in many cultures, the swastika was once a positive symbol representing good luck. But it now has negative connotations because of its association with the Nazi party.

Some social symbols are so deeply ingrained in a culture that people may not even be aware of their meaning. Such symbols can be compelling, mainly when used in advertising or propaganda.

Unique Status Symbols Throughout History


The pineapple has been a symbol of wealth and power for centuries. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the pineapple was a rare and exotic fruit only available to those with money or power. Charles II even paid for a portrait of himself holding a pineapple.

In England, constructing a greenhouse for growing pineapples was very expensive, costing around £28,000. The fact that many failed and the fruit took years to mature only added to the cache of owning one.

Low Number License Plates

The concept of a low-number license plate is simple: the lower the number, the more prestigious and valuable the plate. These plates are often passed down through generations or sold for large sums.

In Dubai, low-number license plates can sell for millions of dollars. The most expensive plate ever sold was Plate Number One, which went for $14 million in 2008.

Painting of “Down Status Drive”

While low-number license plates are coveted status symbols, they also come with a lot of responsibility. In some cases, owners have been targeted by criminals and even kidnapped.


For centuries, caviar has been associated with luxury and wealth. This delicacy was once reserved for royalty and the upper class. Today, caviar is still considered a luxurious food item and is often served at high-end events.

Caviar is made from sturgeon fish’s eggs and can be expensive. The most expensive caviar on the market is Almas caviar, which costs around $25,000 per kilogram.

Painting of “Dealing with Delicates”

While caviar is a delicious treat, it is also controversial. The sturgeon population has declined sharply in recent years due to overfishing and habitat loss. This has led to Caviar being banned in some countries.

What Are Some Status Symbols In Today’s Society?

While some status symbols never go out of style (think designer handbags and luxury cars), others are unique to our time. Here are a few of the unique status symbols in the modern age:

  • NFTs: Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, have taken the art world by storm in recent months. NFTs are digital assets that are unique and cannot be replicated. They’re often used to represent items like artwork, music, or other digital media. While some people see NFTs as a mere fad, others believe they could revolutionize how we think about ownership and value.
  • Cryptocurrency: Cryptocurrency is another unique status symbol of our time. Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency using cryptography to secure transactions. Bitcoin, the most well-known cryptocurrency, has seen its value skyrocket in recent years. While cryptocurrency remains a risky investment, it’s become increasingly popular as a way to store and transfer wealth.
Painting of “The BTCitadel”
  • Rare whiskies: While some status symbols are digital, others are analog. Rare whiskies have recently become a coveted status symbol as investors and collectors seek to cash in on the booming market. A bottle of rare whisky can quickly sell for tens of thousands of dollars, making it one of the most expensive status symbols.

Status Symbols Examples: Expensive Cars, Other People, Large Yams?

When finding a partner, some people are more interested in what they can offer materially rather than emotionally. It could be due to several different things, but often it boils down to a desire for social status.

Of course, not everyone is like this, and plenty of people place more importance on personality and sense of humor. But for those who care about status symbols, what exactly are they looking for?

One common status symbol is an expensive car. For some people, having a partner who can afford a luxurious vehicle proves they are doing well financially and therefore have a higher social standing. Of course, not everyone can afford an expensive car, but it can be an important status symbol for those who can.

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Another common status symbol is other people. It could be in the form of a famous and well-liked partner, or it could be a powerful and influential partner. Again, this is about showing off to others and having a partner who is seen as successful.

Finally, some care about more unusual status symbols, such as large yams.

In West Africa, yam is a crucial common food crop. Beyond its use as food and for its nutritional benefits, yam ownership and production have a variety of cultural, religious, and social connotations that might differ between ethnic groups and geographical regions.

Although this may seem like an odd thing to focus on for some people, it signifies their partner’s ability to provide them with the material item.

How To Use Status Symbols To Your Advantage (In Business and In Life)

It’s no secret that status symbols matter in business and life in general. Whether it’s the car you drive or the clothes you wear, people make judgments based on what they see. And while you can’t always control what others think of you, you can use status symbols to your advantage.

Luxury brands like Rolex and Gucci have built their businesses by selling the idea of social status. And while you may not be able to afford a Rolex, there are ways to use status symbols to create a perception of value that can help you climb the social ladder.

Painting of “Time To Climb”

On a personal level, status symbols can help you portray success and competence. And while some people may see this as superficial, the truth is that first impressions matter. If you can use status symbols to create a positive impression, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.

So whether you’re looking to impress potential clients or be seen as successful, don’t discount the power of status symbols. Used wisely, they can be a powerful tool for achieving your goals.

Just be careful of letting greed control your pursuit of such ambitions. Uncontrolled desire for material gains can result in devastating consequences.

The Psychology Behind Why People Buy Status Symbols

Do people buy status symbols to feel better about themselves, or are they trying to attract mates? According to evolutionary psychology, it may be a bit of both. But regardless of the reason, one thing is clear: status symbols are here to stay.

There are many theories about why people buy status symbols, but evolutionary psychology is among the most popular. The idea is that we are subconsciously trying to attract mates by displaying our wealth and success.

In other words, we want to show potential partners that we would be a good provider and have a high social standing if they were to mate with us. Thus, a thirst for a higher social status can be seduced by lust.

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While this may seem like a superficial reason for buying status symbols, it is essential from an evolutionary perspective. After all, our ultimate goal is to reproduce and pass on our genes. By showing off our wealth and success, we are more likely to find a mate to help us achieve that goal.

So, the next time you’re tempted to buy a status symbol, think about what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you trying to impress potential mates or boost your self-esteem?

Either way, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best. Just be aware of the motivations behind your actions and ensure you’re not spending more than you can afford.

Do Status Symbols Really Matter? How They Impact Our Lives & Society

It’s no secret that our society is obsessed with status symbols. Whether it’s the latest designer handbag, a luxurious car, or an expensive piece of jewelry, we often equate these material possessions with success and worth. But do status symbols matter? And if so, how do they impact our lives and society?

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that status symbols can impact our lives:

For starters, possessing certain status symbols can give us a sense of pride and satisfaction. There’s nothing wrong with feeling good about ourselves when we can afford or acquire something we really want.

Painting of “Prideful Imprisonment”

However, it’s essential to be aware of the dangers of becoming too attached to material possessions. We set ourselves up for disappointment and dissatisfaction when we place our self-worth on objects.

Also, status symbols can create envy and jealousy in those who don’t have them. Thus, potentially leading to resentment and bitterness, further dividing our society. It’s important to remember that we’re all on our journey in life and that comparison is the thief of joy.

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Finally, status symbols can also give us a false sense of security. We may feel like we’re invincible or that we have it all together when we’re driving a fancy car or wearing designer clothes. But the truth is, these things don’t protect

How Minimalism Can Also Be A Social Status

When you think of minimalism, you might think of a spartan lifestyle with little to no possessions. While that is one form of minimalism, it is not the only form. There is a growing movement of people adopting a minimalist lifestyle, and these individuals view minimalism as more than just having less stuff. For them, minimalism is also social status.

Within the minimalist community, those with less stuff have a higher social status. That is because they are more in control of their possessions and lives. They aren’t weighed down by material things and instead focus on experiences and relationships.

So if you’re considering minimalism, know that it is more than just a lifestyle choice. It can also be a way to improve your social status. And who doesn’t want that?

Negative Status Symbols

Most people are familiar with the concept of status symbols. Whether it’s a new car, a designer handbag, or a luxurious vacation home, these material possessions signal to others that we have arrived financially.

But what about negative status symbols? These things can instantly drag down our social standing and make us feel like outcasts. Here are some of the most common negative status symbols:

  • A criminal record: A criminal record is perhaps the ultimate negative status symbol. It can make it challenging to get a job, find housing, or even get a loan.
  • Bad credit: Bad credit can also be a significant financial obstacle. Getting a mortgage, car loan, or even a credit card can make it difficult.
Painting of “Til’ Debt Do Us Apart”
  • A house in shambles: A run-down home can be a huge turnoff to potential buyers, landlords, and neighbors.
  • An unemployed spouse: An unemployed spouse can significantly strain a family’s finances. It can also be a source of shame and embarrassment.
  • A messy or cluttered home: A messy or disorganized house can make us feel like we’re not keeping up with the Joneses. It can also be a turnoff to potential guests or visitors.
Read More: The Psychology of Interior Design: The Effects of Colors, Lighting, and Furniture On Our Behaviors

What Philosophy Is Helpful Regarding Status Symbols?

It is helpful to think about the meanings that different status symbols convey. For example, a luxury car might symbolize success and wealth, while a more modest vehicle might symbolize simplicity and down-to-earthiness. What do you want your status symbols to say about you?

Painting of “Blending In”

Some people believe that it is crucial to have luxurious items to show that they are successful. Others believe it is more important to be humble and not draw attention to oneself.

There is no right or wrong answer, but it is helpful to think about what message you want your status symbols to send. If you are comfortable with people knowing you have wealth or success, go ahead and flaunt your status symbols. But if you prefer to keep a low profile, choose more modest status symbols.

Painting of “Money & Masks”

Whatever you decide, remember that it is essential to be authentic. Don’t try to convey a message that is not true to who you are. People will see through it, and it will backfire on you. Be true to yourself and choose status symbols that reflect your authentic self.

Are Status Symbols Bad?

Status symbols are often associated with greed and other negative qualities. But if we take a step back, we can see that status symbols are just a part of human nature.

Humans are social creatures. We naturally form hierarchies and social structures. These structures allow us to work together effectively and achieve more than we could on our own.

Painting of “Material Hierarchy”

Status symbols are simply a way of indicating our place in the social hierarchy. They help us identify others who we can work with and cooperate with. In many cases, they can be positive things that help us achieve our goals.

Of course, there are also times when status symbols can be wrong. If they’re attained through greed or other harmful practices, they can harm our lives. But if we’re honest with ourselves and don’t attach too much importance to them, they aren’t that bad.

List of Status Symbols

It’s no secret that people love to show off their wealth and status. Whether it’s through the clothes they wear, the cars they drive, or the homes they live in, we all have our ways of flaunting our success.

But what about the more subtle ways we signal our status? Many everyday items serve as status symbols, even if we don’t realize it. Here’s a look at some of the most common status symbols:

Clothing & Jewelry: Designer clothes and expensive jewelry are two of the most prominent status symbols. If you can afford to buy designer labels or deck yourself out in diamonds and gold, it’s a surefire way to show that you’re doing well financially.

Painting of “Designer Disguise”

Watches: While not as flashy as designer clothes or jewelry, watches are still a famous status symbol. A nice watch can say a lot about your success, whether it’s a Rolex, Omega, or another high-end brand.

Homes: The size and location of your home are often good indicators of your wealth and status. Living in a large house in an affluent neighborhood is a pretty clear sign that you’re doing well financially.

Transportation Method: How you get around can also be a status symbol. If you own a luxury car or drive a fancy sports car, it’s a clear sign that you’re doing well. But even if you don’t own a high-end vehicle, going something newer and more excellent than the average person is still a way to show your success.

Painting of “Celebrity Status”

Associated Relationships: The people you associate with can also be a status symbol. If you’ve seen regularly with celebrities or other high-profile individuals, it’s a clear sign that you’re doing well.

These are just a few of the most common status symbols. Whether you realize it or not, we all use them to show our success and wealth.

Status Symbols In America

  • Designer fashion: Brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes are synonymous with luxury. Wearing these labels is a surefire way to show the world you’ve made it.
  • Fine wines: There’s nothing like a glass of fine wine to impress your friends and colleagues. Whether enjoying a bottle of Chateau Margaux or a modest Pinot Noir, wine is always a sign of good taste.
  • Pets: Pets are often seen as status symbols, especially if they’re rare or exotic. From Pomeranians to Bengal cats, owning a pet that’s out of the ordinary is a surefire way to turn heads.
Painting of “Big Deal Bengal”
  • Accessories: Luxury watches, designer handbags, and fine jewelry serve as status symbols. Wearing these items is a great way to show the world you’re doing well.

Status Symbol: A Trip Around The World

The world is full of different cultures with unique customs and traditions. One thing that all cultures have in common is the desire to show off their wealth and status. In some cultures, this takes the form of flashy jewelry or expensive cars. In others, it’s all about the clothes you wear or the food you eat.

Painting of “Social Wealth”

No matter what the form, status symbols are a way of showing the world that you’re somebody important. They can also be a lot of fun to collect and show off. Here are some of the most common status symbols from around the world:

Having a big family: In many areas, such as New York, the size of your family is a status symbol. The more children you have, the higher your status. That is because having a large family shows you can support them financially.

Owning a house: A house is a status symbol in developed countries, primarily in Singapore. It shows you have the financial stability to make such a large purchase. In some cultures, the size of your house is also a status symbol. The bigger your home, the higher your status.

Having a nanny: In some cultures, like in the UK, having a nanny is a sign of wealth. It shows you can afford to pay someone else to care for your children. In others, it’s seen as a sign of laziness.

Owning a falcon: In the Middle East, owning a falcon signifies wealth. Falcons are expensive to purchase and care for, so only those with a lot of money can afford to have one.

These are just some of the many status symbols around the world. What others can you think of? Do you have any unique status symbols in your culture?

Final Thoughts

People buy status symbols to communicate their accomplishments and successes to others. Whether it’s a new car, a fancy watch, or designer clothing, these items convey that the owner has achieved particular success. And while some people may view this as materialistic behavior, there’s a lot of psychology behind it.

Painting of “Status Market”

Ultimately, the decision to buy a status symbol is a personal one. But it’s essential to be aware of the different meanings that these items can convey. So the next time you consider a purchase, think about what message you want to send.

Do you have any favorite status symbols? Let us know in the comments below!



One response to “Symbols of Status: What They Mean and How to Use Them”

  1. […] Harvard business review suggests that having business meetings is one to showcase status. This creates tension among members and the meeting participants can quickly get distracted from […]

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