The racier the car, the racier the hormones.
That's what research results say about some men when it comes to conspicuous spending and their desire for sexual dalliances.
The series of studies, "Peacocks, Porsches and Thorstein Veblen: Conspicuous Consumption as a Sexual Signaling System," was conducted with nearly 1,000 test subjects and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Veblen, an American economist and sociologist, popularized the term "conspicuous consumption" of the leisure class more than 100 years ago and pooh-poohed its contribution to productivity.
Researchers found that just as peacocks flaunt their tails before potential mates, men may flaunt flashy possessions to charm potential dates. Notably, not all men use this ploy -- just those with short-term sexual relationships on their mind.
"The studies show that some men are like peacocks. They're the ones driving the bright-colored sports car," co-author Vladas Griskevicius, assistant marketing professor at the University of Minnesota, said in a statement announcing the research results Thursday.
In one of the studies, women viewed two biographies for a man. They each were 32 years old, had a master's degree, worked for a Fortune 500 company as a senior analyst and enjoyed bicycling, movies and music. The only difference being that one drove a Porsche ($58,000) and the other a Honda ($15,655).
The man with the Porsche was preferred over the Honda man as a date but not for marriage. Women inferred from a man's flashy spending that he was interested in sex without commitment, the study concluded.
"When women considered him for a long-term relationship, owning the sports car held no advantage relative to owning an economy car," said 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."
And this is not a two-way street, the studies found. While men may use conspicuous consumption as a short-term mating call, the researchers discovered that women are not inclined to do the same.
Along with Minnesota, others schools involved in the research were the University of Texas-San Antonio, Rice University, Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)
Copyright 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
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