The perception that there’s a shortage of women leads men to overspend, according to new research by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.They get uber-competitive for “access to mates,” which translates to seeking status through products, said Vladas Griskevicius, an assistant professor of marketing at the Carlson School and lead author of the study.
To test the theory that sex ratios influence spending decisions, the researchers had male participants read news articles describing their local population as having more men or women.
Savings rates dropped by 42 per cent when the men believed women were scarce, and they said they were willing to borrow 84 per cent more monthly.
In another study, male participants viewed photos with more men, more women or both. When asked if they’d rather receive money the next day or later in the month, those who had viewed the photos with fewer women said they’d prefer to get the money tomorrow.
“Economics tells us that humans make decisions by carefully thinking through our choices; that we’re not like animals,” said Griskevicius. “It turns out we have a lot in common with other animals. Some of our behaviours are much more reflexive and subconscious. We see that there are more men than women in our environment and it automatically changes our desires, our behaviours, and our entire psychology.”
Interestingly, the researchers found sex ratios don’t influence women’s spending behaviours, but will influence how much they expect to receive when being courted.
After reading articles describing their local population as having fewer women than men, the women anticipated being lavished with expensive Valentine’s gifts, engagement rings and dinners. (Perhaps the Match.com gold digger was onto something.)
For more information, read the university’s press release here.
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