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The effect of conspicuous consumption on men's testosterone levels

  • Saad, Gad
  • Vongas, John G.
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    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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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6WP2-4WNGD8X-1/2/441561067bec7f2fc9dfa8378e6e90db
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

    Volume (Year): 110 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 (November)
    Pages: 80-92

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:110:y:2009:i:2:p:80-92
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/obhdp

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    1. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst & Nikolai Roussanov, 2007. "Conspicuous Consumption and Race," NBER Working Papers 13392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Belk, Russell W & Bahn, Kenneth D & Mayer, Robert N, 1982. " Developmental Recognition of Consumption Symbolism," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 4-17, June.
    3. Angela Fontes & Jessie Fan, 2006. "The Effects of Ethnic Identity on Household Budget Allocation to Status Conveying Goods," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 643-663, December.
    4. Saad, Gad & Gill, Tripat & Nataraajan, Rajan, 2005. "Are laterborns more innovative and nonconforming consumers than firstborns? A Darwinian perspective," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 58(7), pages 902-909, July.
    5. White, Roderick E. & Thornhill, Stewart & Hampson, Elizabeth, 2006. "Entrepreneurs and evolutionary biology: The relationship between testosterone and new venture creation," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 100(1), pages 21-34, May.
    6. Luuk Van Kempen, 2003. "Fooling the eye of the beholder: deceptive status signalling among the poor in developing countries," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(2), pages 157-177.
    7. Gad Saad, 2006. "Applying evolutionary psychology in understanding the Darwinian roots of consumption phenomena," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(2-3), pages 189-201.
    8. John Tooby & Leda Cosmides & Michael E. Price, 2006. "Cognitive adaptations for n-person exchange: the evolutionary roots of organizational behavior," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(2-3), pages 103-129.
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