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Study Says Luxury Shoppers Aren’t Good Samaritans

Fashion road kill is real, people. And if the above clip doesn’t have you convinced, a recent study conducted by social scientists from Paris Descartes University and the University of Southern Brittany just might.

Seeking to determine how environmental cues affect people’s tendency to help those in need, the researchers made the streets of Paris their stage.

The setup was pretty simple. Groups of undergrads went incognito as damsels in distress in both “ordinary” places and more “haute” locales (i.e. near luxury outposts like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, Prada and Versace). They then feigned an obvious need of assistance. Some, wearing crutches, “accidentally” dropped their belongings in front of unsuspecting passersby. Others were told to take a more active approach, asking random pedestrians to lend them a cellphone or temporarily watch their wheelchair-bound companion slash co-conspirator.

The results? Near designer boutiques, participants were far less likely to help. While 77.5 percent of those on couture-free streets lent a hand, only 35 percent of luxury clients did the same. Sacré bleu.The takeaway? According to the researchers, the mere aura of luxury goods dims our sense of altruism. They theorized that the materialism that goes along with spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on a single item, along with being surrounded by reminders of conspicuous consumption, makes for less empathetic humans.

To be fair, in this day and age, and especially after the traumatizing year Parisians have had, we’d also hesitate to lend out our electronics to a stranger. Furthermore, we’d be interested to see if these results held across different cities and continents. But right now, it’s not looking good for 55 percent of the souls of the 1 percent. Have they never tripped and fallen in their Louboutins?

[ via Fortune ]