the peacock and the porsche

Is conspicuous consumption a mating relevant signal? Veblen never really studied the issue, though he took pains to depict the long history of showy displays of wealth. But the theory that blatant displays of resources are designed to get reproductive rewards is a relatively new angle, though intuitively it is pretty obvious that marketing research would link consumption to sexuality to a pecking order of conspicuous waste. So, date the Porsche and marry the Honda?

Tony Curtis. 1961. Read More:

…Conspicuous consumption is a form of economic behavior in which self-presentational concerns override desires to obtain goods at bargain prices. Showy spending may be a social signal directed at potential mates. We investigated such signals by examining (a) which individuals send them, (b) which contexts trigger them, and (c) how observers interpret them. Three experiments demonstrated that conspicuous consumption is driven by men who are following a lower investment (vs. higher investment) mating strategy and is triggered specifically by short-term (vs. long-term) mating motives. A fourth experiment showed that observers interpret such signals accurately, with women perceiving men who conspicuously consume as being interested in short-term mating. Furthermore, conspicuous purchasing enhanced men’s
desirability as a short-term (but not as a long-term) mate. Overall, these findings suggest that flaunting status-linked goods to potential mates is not simply about displaying economic resources. Instead, conspicuous consumption appears to be part of a more precise signaling system focused on short-term mating. These findings contribute to an emerging literature on human life-history strategies. Read More:

---Just as peacocks flaunt their tails before potential mates, men may flaunt flashy products to charm potential dates. Notably, not all men favored this strategy – just those men who were interested in short-term sexual relationships with women. "The studies show that some men are like peacocks. They're the ones driving the bright colored sports car," said co-author Vladas Griskevicius, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota. According to the researchers, women found a man who chose to purchase a flashy luxury product (such as a Porsche) more desirable than the same man who purchased a non-luxury item (such as a Honda Civic). However, there was a catch: Although women found the flashy guys more desirable for a date, the man with the Porsche was not preferred as a marriage partner. Women inferred from a man's flashy spending that he was interested in uncommitted sex. --- Read More: image:

But, cars have always been a representative gauge of income, a visual cue to the depth of the owner’s pockets. In addition to form, it also tells much about the content of the individual; the importance of status and distinction, or at least their perception of it and more profoundly often linked to sexual prowess or limitations. Certain historical figures like Tony Curtis or Sinatra which claim to have bedded thousands; can they possibly fit any theory evolutionary or not and secondly how valid and comprehensive is Darwin’s theory? Maybe its all just a marketing/economic game for positional goods and competition for what they see as scarce resources – ie. attractive women. Also, since most luxury vehicles are Northern European it reflects those cultural values to the exclusion of others…

..The Porsche Carrera GT does not qualify for the Consumer Reports list of “best buys.” The vehicle has very little cargo capacity, has only two seats, gets terrible gas mileage, and is frightfully expensive to repair. Yet for the people who spend over $440,000 to buy one, these considerations are likely irrelevant. Even among individuals of more ordinary means, scrimping on essentials in order to purchase premium versions of more ordinary products, such as fashionable ski outfits, designer shoes, and upscale wines, is ubiquitous . According to luxury marketing consultants Taylor and Harrison, virtually all consumers have bought, or will buy, at least one luxury brand during their lifetimes. … conspicuous consumption is anything but a frivolous behavior; in fact, it appears to be linked to theoretically important individual differences in reproductive life history. Read More:

---And while the urge to splurge is often blamed on the culture of materialism and incessant advertising, it's probably because of the basic drive to impress the ladies. Other research has shown it's just as true for men in the Amazon forests and the Australian outback who have never seen a TV.--- Read More: image:

…The present experiments demonstrate that the motivation to conspicuously consume and display, to the extent that it is evoked by a mating context, may be most prominent among men pursuing a sexual strategy that involves low parental investment. Conspicuous consumption was pronounced among men interested in short-term mating liaisons and was perceived accordingly by women. When this interdisciplinary perspective is applied, however, the connections go beyond the links among peacocks, Porsches, and Thorstein Veblen. An evolutionary perspective on consumer motivation takes a different frame of reference than do perspectives that focus exclusively on cognition, learning, or culture. This different viewpoint is beneficial insofar as multilevel analyses aid in gaining a complete understanding of human behavior. …The current research adds to the body of work employing adaptationist logic to generate novel hypotheses about the social implications of consumption and demonstrates the utility of evolutionary theory for building bridges between and among consumer, economic, and social psychology.( ibid.)

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