2011 June 16 Thursday
Girls Want Porsche Guys For Flings

Scientific research produces the news you can use. Drive a Porsche for flings, not to get a wife.

New research by faculty at Rice University, the University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) and the University of Minnesota finds that men's conspicuous spending is driven by the desire to have uncommitted romantic flings. And, gentlemen, women can see right through it.

The series of studies, "Peacocks, Porsches and Thorstein Veblen: Conspicuous Consumption as a Sexual Signaling System," was conducted with nearly 1,000 test subjects and published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"This research suggests that conspicuous products, such as Porsches, can serve the same function for some men that large and brilliant feathers serve for peacocks," said Jill Sundie, assistant professor of marketing at UTSA and lead author of the paper.

So if a Porsche-driver manages to marry the girl anyway is he at greater risk of getting cheated on? Is a guy better off exuding totally paternal familial aura in order to get the kind of girl who will make a good wife?

According to the researchers, women found a man who chose to purchase a flashy luxury product (such as a Porsche) more desirable than the same man who purchased a non-luxury item (such as a Honda Civic). However, there was a catch: Although women found the flashy guys more desirable for a date, the man with the Porsche was not preferred as a marriage partner. Women inferred from a man's flashy spending that he was interested in uncommitted sex.

So peacocking really does work. But it only works on women who aren't ready to settle down.

"When women considered him for a long-term relationship, owning the sports car held no advantage relative to owning an economy car," said co-author Daniel Beal, assistant professor of psychology at Rice. "People may feel that owning flashy things makes them more attractive as a relationship partner, but in truth, many men might be sending women the wrong message."

When you step out of that Porsche look brooding rather than smiling.

Women find happy guys significantly less sexually attractive than swaggering or brooding men, according to a new University of British Columbia study that helps to explain the enduring allure of "bad boys" and other iconic gender types.

The study which may cause men to smile less on dates, and inspire online daters to update their profile photos finds dramatic gender differences in how men and women rank the sexual attractiveness of non-verbal expressions of commonly displayed emotions, including happiness, pride, and shame.

Very few studies have explored the relationship between emotions and attraction, and this is the first to report a significant gender difference in the attractiveness of smiles. The study, published online today in the American Psychological Association journal Emotion, is also the first to investigate the attractiveness of displays of pride and shame.

Roissy argues straight guys can learn from how gay guys treat women.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 June 16 10:43 PM  Human Nature Mating

Basil Ransom said at June 17, 2011 11:04 AM:

These scientific surveys are always screwy.

1. What women say has little relation to what arouses them.
2. Women "looking to settle down" are older or otherwise less attractive. Their ride in the Porsche will doubtless be short. It's pre-emptive rejection, what's known as Tufts Syndrome in college admissions - you're so good the college rejects you because it knows you won't enroll.
3. Attractive women pursue men to whom they are attracted. They don't say, "ok, I'm in husband mode, time to find Mr. Civic. No need to find a man who turns me on." Maybe in previous ages, where sluts were shamed and parents vetted the daughter's choices, it was different. No more.

These studies aren't much use if they don't catalog responses by age and attractiveness of respondents. And they should physically measure arousal, instead of asking about it.

Maybe I'll start writing protest letters to these scientists, and see what they say. Expecting arrogant disagreement.

Shawn said at June 18, 2011 12:42 PM:

The fundamental mistake that men make, and one that I have made (BTW Mangan wrote about this recently) is that as men many of us fail to realize that women are programmed to be attracted to status firstly besides looks, etc.

Shawn said at June 18, 2011 1:03 PM:

I basically agree with with what Basil Ransom had to say.

One other thing worth mentioning is that older women who are "ready to settle down" might include women aged 30-60 who would choose the Civic guy over the Porsche guy because they are afraid that the Porsche guy may leave her for a younger and thus more attractive woman, which would reduce the amount of money she would ultimately be able to get transferred her way through the man to her children & herself, reducing the chances her genetic legacy would thrive.

Randall Parker said at June 19, 2011 12:47 PM:


You raise the most important question: Why the preference for Porsche guy or Civic guy? I can see a few signals from the Porsche driver:

- Wealth acquisition ability. Or power.

- Stimulus junkie to a female stimulus junkie.

- Aggressive.

- Uncommitted.

- Capable and willing to get other women.

You can see where a promiscuous woman would be turned on by all the points. But a woman looking for a guy to raise a kid would be turned off by a couple of them, most notably being capable and willing to get other women.

A hot younger woman might think she has better prospects of keeping the guy. But even she might have serious reservations. But, yes, over age 30 only a deluded woman would think she has a decent chance of keeping him.


There are still women who are as calculating about who to pursue as a woman in a Jane Austen novel. What they find attractive is in substantial part a result of rational calculation.

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