Homo Consumericus

The nature and nurture of consumption

Fathers-to-be: Drive a Porsche Daily…Doctor’s Orders!

Hormone therapy for expectant fathers...drive a Porsche!

My wife and I are expecting our first child in less than three weeks. Of course, we are both excited and scared about the prospects of becoming new parents. Needless to say, my wife is bearing much of the physical brunt inherent to this joyful reality. You may ask: what do you mean by much? What is your physical contribution to her gestation? Mother Nature turns out to be a great equalizer. My testosterone levels are about to take a gigantic dip! Several evolutionists have shown that expectant fathers' T levels decrease immediately after the birth of their child. One explanation for this phenomenon is that it is an adaptive mechanism meant to focus a man's energies on parental investment and away from mating concerns. This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza decides to become celibate. In so doing, he discovers that his mind is now free to pursue endless interests, which were otherwise hidden from him given that he used to solely focus on sex! Returning to our expectant fathers, a reduction in a man's testosterone levels is nature's way of "freeing" him from the incessant pursuit of sex, and refocusing his energies on his newborn child.

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To all of you expectant fathers, prepare to say goodbye to your basal testosterone levels. All is not lost though. I may have a remedy for you based on a study that I recently conducted with John Vongas, one of my former graduate students. We had young men drive one of two cars, either an expensive Porsche or an old sedan, in one of two environments either in downtown Montreal (a public setting) or on a semi-deserted highway (a somewhat less public setting). Subsequent to each of the four experimental conditions, we collected salivary assays from the participants to gauge changes in their testosterone (T) levels. We argued that conspicuous consumption is a form of sexual signaling akin to that performed by countless other species. Put a man in a high status car, and his hormonal response will correspond to a social win (T levels go up subsequent to a competitive win). Place him in a "beta" car, and his tail will be between his legs (T levels go down subsequent to a competitive loss). Furthermore, the changes in testosterone levels should be more pronounced as a function of whether the drive takes place in a public or private setting. The results largely bore our expectations. Our study is currently under review in a special issue on the biology of business.

Expectant fathers: It's time to pimp your ride. I don't mean putting new mags on your Toyota Corolla. I mean upgrade your Toyota to a Porsche! Your testosterone levels will thank you. Should the sale of Porsches increase inexplicably in the imminent future, I shall expect a cut of the action!

One parting comment: Many men who experience the proverbial midlife crisis end up purchasing an ostentatious sports car. Given that men's T levels decrease as they age, perhaps such purchases are nothing more than a form of hormone replacement therapy!

Ciao for now.

Photo credit:
http://www.porsche.com/canada/none/models/911/

 

 

 

 

Gad Saad is Professor of Marketing at Concordia University and author of The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption and The Consuming Instinct.

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