RICE U. (US) — Just like preening peacocks, some men spend money on conspicuous goods in an attempt to lure women into short-term relationships. But women aren’t buying it.
A new study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, finds that while a woman may find a man who chooses to purchase a flashy luxury product (such as a Porsche) more desirable than a man who purchases a non-luxury item (such as a Honda Civic), there’s a catch.
The man may be seen as desirable for a date, but not as a marriage partner. Ostentatious spending is a clue that the man is interested in uncommitted sex, the study says.
“This research suggests that conspicuous products, such as Porsches, can serve the same function for some men that large and brilliant feathers serve for peacocks,” says Jill Sundie, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Texas-San Antonio and lead author of the paper.
Just as peacocks flaunt their tails before potential mates, men who are interested in short-term sexual relationships flash theirs—in the guise of cars and other products.
“The studies show that some men are like peacocks. They’re the ones driving the bright colored sports car,” says co-author Vladas Griskevicius, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota.
“When women considered him for a long-term relationship, owning the sports car held no advantage relative to owning an economy car,” says co-author Daniel Beal, assistant professor of psychology at Rice University.
“People may feel that owning flashy things makes them more attractive as a relationship partner, but in truth, many men might be sending women the wrong message.”
Women don’t behave in the same manner and don’t conspicuously spend to attract men, the researchers say.
“Obviously, women also spend plenty of money on expensive things,” Sundie says. “But the anticipation of romance doesn’t trigger flashy spending as it does with some men.”
Researchers from Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico contributed to the study.
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