How do you feel when you see someone driving an expensive car? A bit of awe? A twinge of envy? Or maybe just indifference? Given that luxury sports car are often thought of as a status symbol, it's fair to wonder whether their drivers are viewed with desire or disdain.
Well, fasten your seatbelts. We tested how an expensive car may affect a driver's likability.
We conducted an experiment with 400 people on Amazon Mechanical Turk in which participants were asked to imagine walking down the street when a car (pictured below) pulls over, rolls down the window, and asks where the nearest gas station is. For the experiment, participants viewed either a Honda or a Sports Car (randomly assigned). Participants were asked, "How much do you like this person?" and responded by answering on a 1-7 scale.
We found no significant difference in Driver Likability between the Honda condition (avg. = 4.68) and the Sports Car condition (avg. = 4.59), (p = 0.522), suggesting that onlookers may just be indifferent. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to test this in real life with a real sports car... if only we could afford one.
We used a two sample t-test to test for significant differences in perceived likability between our hypothetical driver of a Honda vs. Sports Car, For significant differences, the coefficient would be large and its corresponding “p-value” would be small. If the p-value is less than 0.05, we consider the difference statistically significant.