Homo Consumericus

The nature and nurture of consumption

Do Women Have a “Fireman” Fantasy?

The fireman’s allure: The archetype of the male hero.

Of all archetypes of a male hero, the firefighter ranks very highly on most women's lists. It is not difficult to explain why such a "fireman" effect might exist. They are typically athletic men who face great physical risks, as a means of saving strangers' lives. Many of these traits are highly sought after attributes in a male suitor and accordingly the fireman archetype is deeply entrenched in many women's psyches. Few women fantasize about accountants, office managers, and dental hygienists. I dare say that few women (if any) have ever uttered: "You are arousing me with your sexy talk of the amortized depreciation of manufacturing equipment." A recent survey found that firefighting was ranked as the most prestigious profession!

Nicolas Guéguen, a French psychologist whose work I have covered on numerous occasions on my blog, recently conducted a set of experiments to determine whether women will respond more favorably to men dressed in a fireman's uniform (see here for the published article). For the purposes of this post, I'll restrict my discussion to one of the three studies (study 3), namely whether when asked for their phone numbers, women were more likely to oblige the request when the man is wearing a fireman's uniform versus casual civilian clothes. The men used in the experiment were considered good-looking and of comparable good looks (across the experimental conditions). The exact words uttered to the female participants were: "Hello. My name's Antoine. I just want to say that I think you're really pretty. I have to go to work this afternoon but I wonder if you would give me your phone number. I'll phone you later and we can have a drink together someplace".

Two hundred and forty women who were strolling down the street unaccompanied were approached (120 in each of the two experimental conditions). Here are the proportions (in terms of obliging the request):

When approached by the fireman: 26 out of 120 (21.7%)

When approached by a "civilian": 10 out of 120 (8.3%)

The difference is highly significant (p < .005).

On a related note, some of you might recall two earlier posts wherein I discussed how women will evaluate men quite differently as a function of the social status that is signaled by their clothes and cars (see here and here), and a third post in which I described another study by Guéguen that showed that women were more likely to offer their phone numbers to a man walking with a dog (see here). Bottom line: If you wish to augment your chances of obtaining a woman's phone numbers, step out of a Ferrari, wearing a fireman's uniform, whilst holding a miniature poodle in your hands!

Men and women use a wide assortment of cues when judging the attractiveness of a prospective suitor. That men are more likely to be intoxicated by a woman's looks and that women might be more likely to succumb to cues of social status does not suggest that either sex is shallow and/or superficial. Rather, these robust findings speak to evolutionary-based sexual dimorphisms in the mating domain.

At the risk of repeating myself (as I raised the same point at the end of my last post), I trust that the PT bloggers who were "offended" by the use of teaser images containing sexy women will at some point rise up against the gratuitous objectification of these scantily clad "beefy" men. Your silence is deafening. ☺

Note that the teaser image shows a fireman holding a baby. A similar phenomenon happens during political campaigns, namely male candidates are always keen to be photographed holding a baby. This visual stimulus is a powerful way of signaling one's ability to be nurturing, gentle, and protective, qualities that the populace seeks in a leader.

Source for Image:
http://cravagolina.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/firefighter-hot.jpg

 

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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