sex and conspicuous consumption

Sep 2015

I`m currently working on an article (not scientific paper) for one of business magazines and it`s topic is smth like "evolutionary basics of conspicuous consumption and how your business can exploit them"

I want to summarize what I`ve already found


Men engage in conspicuous consumption to attract short-term partners

Women regard men that engage in conspicuous consumption as short-term dates since the guy seems not to be planning his future

However is there any scientific evidence (apart from anecdotal) that girls are attracted buy conspicuously consuming men in short term (one night stands etc)? I didn`t find any papers on that

Peacocks, Porsches, and Thorstein Veblen:
Conspicuous Consumption as a Sexual Signaling System


Women provoke their male partners to make valuable gifts in order to order to ward off possible rivals. Evidence shows that women stimulate men to buy expensive and socially displayable gifts (golden ring but not golden toothbrush) when they see potential rivals.
It`s as if the send a message - "You see, he loves me and heavily invests in me. Stay away from him"

Research states that other women clearly read this signal and "indicated they would be less likely to pursue man whose partner was wearing a luxury outfit and accessories because they perceived the man to be more devoted"

I get this logic but I`m not sure whether this idea passes the reality check since I can imagine "challenge accepted" reaction to this behavior. In other words I agree with the idea that women encourage men to make valuable gifts in order to ward off rivals but I also feel that this strategy quiet often backfires on them

Conspicuous Consumption, Relationships, and Rivals: Women’s Luxury Products as Signals to Other Women

This article in brief


People also engage in conspicuous consumption in order to display what i call "preventive agression"

For instance, rulers created enonrmous monuments not only for religious purposes but also to communicate "don`t mess with me" signal to possible invaders or inner rivals
It`s like "how do you plan to defeat a man who can force his slaves to build
such an enormous temple"

I believe this logic can be applied to many political and economic enterprises - like soviet-american space race

The article I found about it is quiet obscure but nevertheless interesting

What interests me - is there any evidence that day-to-day conspicuous consumption has the same security motivation?

Can we say that it is a sort of cognitive bias that we interpet our display of wealth as "don`t mess with me signal"?

Plz don`t judge me to harshly - I`m not an academic researcher in evolutionary psychology and I`m only starting to understand it

Apart from questions I`ve already mentioned, I`ll be glad to hear any other input
Mar 2020
I agree with everything you said.

The idea of consoicuosity as a display of dominance to declare "don't less with me" was something that I hadn't put together before. It makes sense. I am personally worried that relationships may be damaged by this, but it seems to be just as effective as "buy me expensive jewlery so you can't afford another woman."

I think there is a function of defeatism involved in both. I believe that defeat is necessary for a relationship, in order to balance the fact that two people have entered an orbit, which they must learn how to cooperate.

I would hope that neither of these behaviors were necessary if I were to have a relationship. I would be willing to be inconspicuous if my female partner were willing to save money for retirement.

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