Can't Buy Happiness?

Money, personality, and well-being

Why Do Men Buy Corvettes? Because Women Are Attracted to High-Status Products

By spending money in a conspicuous way (i.e., with the intention of attracting mating opportunities), men’s ability and desire to engage in mating behaviors is increased. But then the question then is: do women even notice or care? Read More

Okay, but

why can't the answer be "just because sports cars are fun"?

Because the goal is to find

Because the goal is to find the "deeper" motivations/reasons that cause this behavior, so that we get a better understanding of human nature. Think about what you are saying, "just because sports cars are fun". What is "fun"? Yes, the person is having a pleasurable experience, but the goal is to find the reason for that. That pleasure could come from the release of serotonin, and that serotonin could be released because he feels that the corvette makes him higher up in the social hierarchy of males. The point is to find these reasons, and not just be content with, "sports cars are fun."

Nice thought Mark.

This is an excellent explanation.

Not to go on a tangent, but

Not to go on a tangent, but this is the reasons that I see an animosity between post-modern movements like feminism and evolutionary psychology. The majority of feminists subscribe to a form of nominalism where "power" gives meaning to language, and that power is in a social context, hence everything is a social construct. There is a grain of truth to this. If I go to a high school, and listen to conversations, I will hear words like jock, nerd, etc.. There is no doubt that this language is in the web of power relations, that subjects are being created to use a possible expression from Foucault. The difference is that the evolutionary psychologist is a realist that believes that his theoretical system does conform to reality, and is making a truth claim, and not just rhetoric to persuade.

I suppose the successful feminist scholar who is 40 and reads about how her mate value is less than her male colleague, because a theoretical discipline states that women were selected for fertility, and not for resources, will look at this as a sexist epistemology that just wants to reinforce traditional gender roles.

What would be interesting is if a feminist scholar took a more existentialist route. What I mean by that is if she understood that nature conditions us in a certain way, but that as a human with this existential freedom, she can choose a path, and if that path goes against nature, it could be more meaningful. I am thinking about Kierkegaard's transition from the aesthetic to the ethical.

Pleasure can come from more than status

I agree that the feeling of pleasure could be the result of a perceived increase in status, but it could also come from other feelings. When I first drove a Boxster S it was a deeply visceral experience, almost like riding a wild animal. I would say that having this experience is pleasurable in itself, much like riding a roller coaster. There are probably some people who ride a roller coaster to show off to others that they are not afraid, but most people ride because they want that feeling of anxiety and fear in a safe environment that they know is going to turn out all right.

In the end, of course, the roller coaster experience and others like it are about exploring our own sense of understanding of, and power over, our world, which plays into our sense of our own strength and fitness for reproductive success. But these experiences can be much more inward directed than status displays, which are entirely outward directed.

Because the goal is to find

Because the goal is to find the "deeper" motivations/reasons that cause this behavior, so that we get a better understanding of human nature. Think about what you are saying, "just because sports cars are fun". What is "fun"? Yes, the person is having a pleasurable experience, but the goal is to find the reason for that. That pleasure could come from the release of serotonin, and that serotonin could be released because he feels that the corvette makes him higher up in the social hierarchy of males. The point is to find these reasons, and not just be content with, "sports cars are fun."

Thanks for mentioning our study

It would have been nice to actually mention our names if not provide a link to the study in question. Here it is: http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2009-20745-003

GS

Sorry for the oversight.

Hi Gad,

Thank you for your link to the original study and the link to your blog. I have added both to the blog.

I will be posting a follow-up blog today where we mention you by name and provide the citations to your articles.

Ryan

Thanks Ryan.

Have a good Sunday.

Cheers,

GS

Here is the PT link wherein I discuss our testosterone study

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/homo-consumericus/200812/fathers-be-...

Interested readers might wish to check out my blog as I have discussed many of the issues raised in this article in several posts.

GS

Wow, this is so interesting.

Wow, this is so interesting. Women are pathetic in their mating demands, which makes men act pathetic. Now we know why!

Thankfully I'm good looking, so doing this sort of thing isn't really necessary, I have a great gf. If I was ugly though, I would probably look at doing this sort of thing.

This is being unfair to

This is being unfair to women, and I am no mangina. Both women and men have evolved in certain ways. Women want the dominant male, whether he is physically, socially, or financially dominant. We men want the hot and young lady. The "wisdom of nature" has implanted this in us, so that the species propagate, women will want the mate that they can survive with, and will produce the best offspring, and men want the most fertile woman who will produce the best offspring.

This does raise the question about what ethical system should we have given our biology. This is why I am not as fond of Judeo-Christian morality. The focus is on the "fallenness" of man and nature, and the need to correct these injustices of nature. A person will look at both man's desire for a beautiful woman, and a woman's desire for the dominant male, and reflect on how the less attractive women and the less dominant male have a harsher life, and say, "it is just not fair, reality should not be like that", and have this obsession to change. I like the ancient Greek idea of arete. The world is harsh, but if I am strong, formidable, brave, skillful, creative, and intelligent, then I can win at life.

Why do footballers have pretty (or gorgeous) girlfriends?

I rest my case.

I sometimes wonder: do

I sometimes wonder: do evolutionary psychologists and people who take an interest in it, actively try to increase their 'reproductive success', consciously using strategies that they've learned from their studies?

Of course, a lot of these effects take place below awareness in most people. My question is, once people become aware of natural selection and evolutionary psychology, does this knowledge become an inspiration to have more, and more successful children? And is this goal ever approached in a conscious and deliberate way, for the purposes of "winning the game" that they see in operation?

I just wonder how many people have made this into a conscious preoccupation, and how many people just find it interesting but don't integrate it into their own motivations.

What about you?

This depends on the ethics

This depends on the ethics that one has. I do think that evolutionary psychology provides a good basis for a virtue moral theory that is based upon naturalism. The Darwinian Conservative argues that this was Aristotle's project, that his ethics was based upon his biology.
http://darwinianconservatism.blogspot.com/2010/09/aristotles-darwinian-e...

We know that males will want to befriend other males that are physically and socially dominant, and that females will want to have sex with the male that is physically and socially dominant. We know that both formidability and heroic risk taking were selected in males. Maybe the best father for the teenage son is the one who says, "lets get you started in a weight-lifting program, and mixed martial arts", and gives him a virtue moral theory based upon formidability, honor, and bravery. Here is a book that goes down that route.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Way-of-Men-ebook/dp/B007O0Y1ZE

Yes it's all biology, nature,

Yes it's all biology, nature, etc. and can't be helped.

But it still depresses me (and I'm a female). I see these trends/tendencies all around me, and it makes everything seem empty somehow. We're all just here tying to impress each other enough to procreate. And then we die.

Oh well...

I totally agree!

I agree Abc, do many other people feel this way?

I want to find a support group for people who are Darwinians but find the nature of it very disturbing. Anyone else???

Not seeking

I am a female, and I don't want a man who spends all his money.
I want a man who earns well, saves well, and isn't hung up on his status.
I don't want him to flaunt his BMW.

So, yes, it is a tad depressing...
(I earn well, save well, and just want a partner, an equal... Not too much to ask!!)

No actual Corvette owners were spoken with...

...in the making of this blog post. It's just constructivist rubbish.

Are you serious?

Not sure who named the title of the Article "Why do men buy Corvettes...because WOMEN are attracted to high status products...is a very insulting to women and to the men who buy corvettes.

Firstly lets just say the motivation for men to buy cars especially vintage cars are for a variety of reasons other than to attract women. I've come across car auctions where there wasn't a women in the room and the guys were still excited to spend all evening discussions the difference between a 64 and 65 T'bird or the new dodge car design.

Secondly that's a serious assertion to deduce that all women are drawn to high-status products. This is demeaning and denigrates all women to being gold-diggers, and superficial.

This is fascinating,

This is fascinating, especially since I always believed men were attracted to Corvettes because they seem to be a phallic symbol. In reality, they are appealing to the desires of women looking for a suitable mate and going for that rush of testosterone. Who would have known?

So going by this theory

So going by this theory women, gay men, and people under 45 of both genders never buy corvettes? Ah, OK, just wanted to make sure.

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Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University.

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