Spending More Than You Can Afford and Sex — It’s a Guy Thing

I was doing a little light reading yesterday and came across a great article all about how guys that are trying to attract women are much more likely to spend a significant amount more of items of conspicuous consumption than guys not trying to get, ah, laid. Seriously.

And me, before I leave you feeling like you alone had sexual desires that could be manipulated by overspending or conspicuous consumption, you were not alone.

Study 4 showed that women rated a man driving a Porsche Boxster as more attractive for a short-term sexual relationship than a man driving a Honda Civic. But the Porsche did not make the man more attractive as a possible marriage partner. Men rating women were uninfluenced by the type of car she drove. This last study is especially intriguing since it suggests that women are attracted to conspicuously consuming men for their good genes (which can be obtained from a single copulation) rather than their good resources.

A study by the evolutionary psychologists Martin Daly and the late Margo Wilson from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, confirmed that mating priming influences economic behaviour more strongly among males than females. They were interested in people’s “discount rates”, which determine how patient people are when given a choice between a certain number of dollars tomorrow, or a larger number of dollars a larger number of days into the future. First they measured the discount rate for about 200 subjects. Then they asked people to look at photographs of potential mates or cars that were previously rated as highly attractive or unattractive. Finally, they remeasured each person’s discount rate to see if it had changed after looking at the photographs.

They found that men who looked at the photographs of highly attractive women (from Hotornot.com) switched to a much higher discount rate – they became much less patient about money. Looking at cars had no effect on men’s discount rates, and looking at men had no effect on women’s discount rates. (However, women looking at highly attractive cars actually developed a lower discount rate – a more economically rational attitude better suited to saving up the money for buying a car.) In short, men who saw attractive women became much more motivated to get whatever money they could in the short term, presumably so they could spend it on conspicuous consumption to attract mates.

If you like this kind of behavioral economic s stuff like I do you’ll want to read the full article in the New Scientist

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