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16 January 2012
Can status trump all in the mating arms-race?
by George Atkinson

Fascinating new research shows that when males outnumber females, men will seek to improve their status by buying products and spending money. According to the University of Minnesota researchers behind the study, men become impulsive, save less, and increase borrowing, when females are scarce.

"What we see in other animals is that when females are scarce, males become more competitive. They compete more for access to mates," says Vladas Griskevicius, lead author of the study. "How do humans compete for access to mates? What you find across cultures is that men often do it through money, through status and through products."

In one of the experiments conducted for the study, participants saw photo arrays of men and women that had more men, more women, or were neutral. After looking at the photographs, participants were asked to choose between receiving some money tomorrow or a larger amount in a month. When women were scarce in the photos, men were much more likely to take an immediate $20 rather than wait for $30 in a month.

In another experiment, participants read news articles that described their local population as having more men or more women. They were then asked to indicate how much money they would save each month from a paycheck. When led to believe women were scarce, the savings rates for men decreased by 42 percent.

Griskevicius says the participants were unaware that sex ratios were having any effect on their behavior. Merely seeing more men than women automatically led men to simply be more impulsive and want to save less while borrowing more to spend on immediate purchases.

"It turns out we have a lot in common with other animals. Some of our behaviors are much more reflexive and subconscious. We see that there are more men than women in our environment and it automatically changes our desires, our behaviors, and our entire psychology," he concluded.

Related:
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Evolution favors delusional daters
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The Mating Dance: The Eyes Have It

Source: University of Minnesota




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