Women Shop to Fend Off Other Women, Says New Research

September 5, 2013 by Norm Schneider  
Published in Women

Guys, should you be flattered or hide the credit card? Women are you going to take this?

There’s new research published in the Journal of Consumer Research (2013) that suggests that women’s desire for luxury products is just a defense mechanism aimed at keeping other women from luring their husbands or boyfriends away.

The researchers say that previous research showed that buying luxury products serve to boost self-esteem, express identity, and signal status. But, say the scientists, they’ve found another reason for women buying glitzy and expensive items – it’s all about how luxury items send a signal to other women to ‘stay away, this guy is taken.’

Flattered Or Pissed?

I suppose men ought to be flattered at how their mates protect their relationship. On the other hand, this kind of shopping war could lead to some heady bills at the end of the month. Talk about being between a rock (diamond, perhaps?) and a hard place.

The researchers say that men buy luxury products, in part, to attract women. But, women use such products to fend off female rivals. To come to their conclusions the researchers conducted five experiments to determine how women’s luxury products function as a signaling system directed at other women who pose threats to their romantic relationships.

Their findings showed that guarding their mate triggered women to seek and display lavish possessions. The findings also showed that women use pricey possessions to signal that their romantic partner is especially devoted to them. In turn, flaunting designer handbags and shoes was effective at deterring other women from poaching another woman’s partner. This research identifies a novel function of conspicuous consumption, revealing that luxury products and brands play important roles in relationships.

Men, Pay Attention

So, the research offers a cautionary tale for men and retailers. Men, you might want to emphasize to your mate that no one will ever take you away. So, you might say, there’s no need to shop ‘till you drop’ (or until the guy drops after seeing the bills). Retailers, here’s a whole new advertising concept. Emphasize how your Gucci handbags and other luxury items will be certain to fend off any woman from invading your home front and luring away your husband or boyfriend.

Guys, you might wonder from where this notion came that you are so easy as to be lured away when another women flashes her Rolex or some other pricey bauble at you. And women – are you really willing to be so easily categorized? Are you all just sitting out there waiting to grab each other’s mates? Are you all waiting for the next sale at Bloomingdale’s to pick up enough glitz to entice whomever you want – married or not – into your arms? If the answer is ‘no,’ you might consider writing to the study authors, Yajin Wang, Vladas Griskevicius at the University of Minnesota.

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