The effect of conspicuous consumption on men's testosterone levels
Using evolutionary psychology as a theoretical framework, it is argued that conspicuous consumption serves as a means by which men communicate their social status to prospective mates. Accordingly, men's endocrinological responses, particularly their testosterone levels, are responsive to fluctuations in their status as triggered by acts of conspicuous consumption. Study 1 reports that men's testosterone levels increased and decreased partially (directionally), after driving an expensive sports car and an old family sedan, respectively. Additionally, the location of the drive, either a busy downtown area or a semi-deserted highway, partially moderated this response. Study 2 demonstrates that when men's social status was threatened by the wealth displays of a male confederate in the presence of a female moderator, their testosterone levels increased. This is suggestive of an evolved mechanism for responding to intra-sexual challenges. Collectively, these constitute the first set of studies to measure hormonal outcomes in consumer behavior.
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Volume (Year): 110 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
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NBER Working Papers
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