Restricted purchases as signaling, a proposal from Geoffrey Miller

Geoffrey Miller, in his new book Spent, suggests an intriguing but I think absurd idea:

For example, companies could sell certain products only to consumers who have a certain minimum or maximum score on one or more of the certain Central Six [personality] traits.  Hummer dealers could advertise that the "Party Animal Red Pearl" paint color is available only to customers who score in the top 5 percent for extraversion.  Customers who want to display their unusually high extraversion through that bright red color would have to electronically validate their extraversion score at the dealership before they could sign the purchase agreement.  In this way, Hummer could guarantee that Party Animal Red Pearl becomes a reliable signal of friendliness, self-confidence, and ambition.  Or Lexus could sell the "Mensa Quartz Medallic" color of the LS 460 only to customers whose validated intelligence scores are high enough for them to join Mensa International (IQ 130+ or the top one in fifty).  The more exclusive "Prometheus Glacier Pearl" color could indicate an IQ above 160 (the top one in thirty thousand) — the qualification for joining the Prometheus Society.

But why those proposals are so absurd — that is harder to answer.  What are your thoughts?  Can it be that people ought not to be seen as signaling too purposively?  Maybe, but if so, that would seem to rule out so much — too much — of the marketplace signaling which we in fact observe.


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