Sunday, February 11, 2018

Near ovulation, women were willing to accept lesser versions of a product (a $5,000 diamond ring in lieu of a $7,000 one) as long as they had better products than other women. And, ovulating women kept more money for themselves in the Dictator Game rather than give it to another woman

Durante KM, Griskevicius V. Evolution and consumer psychology. Consum Psychol Rev. 2018;1:4–21.

Abstract: An evolutionary theoretical approach considers the adaptive function of behavior. Here we discuss what it means to use an evolutionary approach to generate predictions about consumer behavior and the value of applying an evolutionary lens to the study of consumer psychology. We begin with a discussion of the core insights of evolutionary theory and the common misperceptions associated with an evolutionary approach to the study of behavior. We then detail how specific evolutionarily informed theories can be applied to four core areas of consumer research: risk preference, competition and luxury consumption, self-control and temporal preferences, and the consumer behavior of women and families. We also discuss the strengths and limitations of an evolutionarily informed research program.

The ovulatory shift hypothesis suggests that mating goals are particularly salient for women near ovulation. For example, when it comes to fashion, research shows that ovulation has a large effect on women’s desire to look more attractive and dress in sexier outfits (Durante, Griskevicius, Hill, Perilloux, & Li, 2011; Durante, Li, & Haselton, 2008; Saad & Stenstrom, 2012). The desire to dress sexy at ovulation was found to be related specifically to outcompeting other women for access to the best men available. For example, ovulation has the strongest effect on women’s desire for sexier clothing when women know that there are many other attractive women in their local environment (Durante et al., 2011), that is, when there is lots of competition for mates.

Thus, if status competition and luxury consumption are related to mating, the ovulatory shift hypothesis may shed light on women’s desire for luxury products. Recent research drawing on this hypothesis proposed the idea that ovulation should not only enhance women’s mating motivations, but also women’s desire to compete with other women for status (Durante, Griskevicius, Cantú, & Simpson, 2014). This idea is consistent with research in nonhuman primates. For example, female rhesus monkeys become more aggressive and competitive with other females (not males) during the ovulatory phase (Walker, Wilson, & Gordon, 1983; Wallen, 2000).

Putting this lens to women’s desire for luxury goods, it was found that, near ovulation, women desire more expensive products and this effect is related to increased competitive tendencies (Durante et al., 2014; Kim, Durante, Griskevicius, & Nikiforidis, 2017). For example, in one study, ovulating and nonovulating women made product choices that could either  maximize absolute gains or maximize gains relative to other women (Durante et al., 2014). The findings showed that ovulation made women more competitive with regard to other women. Near ovulation, women were willing to accept lesser versions of a product (a $5,000 diamond ring in lieu of a $7,000 diamond ring) as long as they had better products than other women. And, ovulating women kept more money for themselves in the Dictator Game rather than give it to another woman. Ovulating women also prefer luxury (compared to nonluxury) products and conspicuous goods as a direct reflection of a desire to outcompete rival women for status and access to mates (Kim et al., 2017). When it comes to wanting multiple versions of products, ovulation enhances this, too (Durante & Arsena, 2014).

Check also The Rival Wears Prada: Luxury Consumption as a Female Competition Strategy. Liselot Hudders et al. Evolutionary Psychology, Volume: 12 issue: 3.
Abstract: Previous studies on luxury consumption demonstrated that men spend large sums of money on luxury brands to signal their mate value to women and, thus, increase their reproductive success. Although women also spend copious amounts of money on luxuries, research focusing on women's motives for luxury consumption is rather scarce. Relying on costly signaling and intrasexual competition theory, the goal of the current study was to test whether female intrasexual competition in a mate attraction context triggers women's spending on luxuries. The results of the first experiment reveal that an intrasexual competition context enhances women's preferences for attractiveness enhancing, but not for non-attractiveness related luxuries such as a smartphone. This finding indicates that women may use luxury consumption as a self-promotion strategy during within-sex competitions, as these luxuries improve their advantages against same-sex rivals for mates. A follow-up study shows that compared to women who do not consume luxuries, women who do so are perceived as more attractive, flirty, young, ambitious, sexy, and less loyal, mature and smart by other women. These results suggest that luxury consumption may provide information about a women's willingness to engage in sex, as well as her views about other women, and consequently, her success in intrasexual competitions.

Keywords: women, intrasexual competition, luxury consumption, sex differences, status

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