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There are many rewards if you’re the sexiest beast in town! But there is also a price.
In 2008, Daniel Kruger released a paper that showed that the more sexually active a man was – thus “successful” in evolutionary terms – the more likely he had large credit card debt. The group tested was comprised of men between the ages of 18 to 45, from different zip codes, incomes, and marital status. But the results were the same. The men who admitted to the largest number of sexual encounters also admitted to having the smallest savings and higher debt.
Higher mating success correlated directly to higher financial consumption.
Mating Needs Money?
Psychologists Glenn Geher and Scott Kaufman wrote a book entitled “Mating Intelligence Unleashed.” Despite the goofy title, the book is filled with scientific studies on the subject of evolutionary psychology (“mating intelligence”).
It has been well established that the greater the display of success – called “wealth signals” – the greater the mating success. But Geher and Kaufman pointed to Kruger’s study for a reason: to show that deceit can be a successful mating strategy.
Kruger’s study showed that “wealth signals” – expressed as higher consumption – were not the same as truly having wealth. By definition, someone who spends everything doesn’t have “wealth,” they have the opposite – called “debt.”
You don’t own a car or house until you make the last payment. You can lose your job. Debt can ruin your credit score. But high financial consumption still “signals” wealth and so is a successful mating strategy.
Women Do It Too?
Yes, women can be guilty of deceitful mating strategies as well!
For starters, women spend much more money than men on makeup and clothing. Creams and moisturizers can hide wrinkles and smooth skin. Hair dye conceals the gray. Makeup can enhance sensuality. Provocative clothing (high heels, short skirts, décolletage, etc.) are ways of provoking a sexually exciting response…even when she herself isn't in a sexually aroused state.
In another study, researchers found that women could lie about other things to provoke male desire. For example, she could lie about wanting a short- or long-term relationship, about wanting children, or even how much she likes sex!
Deceiving Is Believing?
There’s an old maxim: Fake it till you make it. Sometimes there are emotional and biochemical advantages to spending lots of money. In a study - by researchers Saad and Vongas (2008) - male subjects were given two cars to drive: a “clunker” and a Porsche. Their testosterone levels were measured afterwards. After driving the Porsche, the subjects’ testosterone levels were boosted!
Higher financial consumption not only attracts, you can genuinely feel sexier too!
Just because a strategy is successful doesn’t mean that it’s for the best. Debt is poison to long-term finances. You need savings to build wealth. Deceiving people with a false sexual allure is not going to be successful in the long-term either. That’s why we have reputations. Is such deceit a sound basis for a relationship?
The mating instinct drives us. What price are we really willing to pay?
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Buss, D.M. The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating. Basic Books, 2003.
Geher, Glenn and Kaufman, Scott. Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love. Oxford University Press, 2013.
Haselton, M. G., Buss, D.M., Oubaid, V., & Angleitner, A. (2005). Sex, lies, and strategic interference: The psychology deception between the sexes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 3-23.
Kruger, D.J. (2008) Male financial consumption is associated with higher mating intentions and mating success. Evolutionary Psychology, 6, 603-612.
Saad, G., & Vongas, J. (2008). The effect of conspicuous consumption on men’s testosterone levels. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 110, 80-92.
Hello! My name is Heath Shive, content manager at ScholarFox. I'll be the author of most of the blog posts. I'm a former geologist and currently a freelance writer. The world is complex and seemingly crazy. Good! Because when you love to learn, you'll never be bored.