Blatant Benevolence and Conspicuous Consumption: When Romantic Motives Elicit Strategic Costly Signals

Vladas Griskevicius, Joshua M. Tybur, Jill M. Sundie, Robert B. Cialdini, Geoffrey F. Miller, Douglas Kenrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

332 Scopus citations

Abstract

Conspicuous displays of consumption and benevolence might serve as "costly signals" of desirable mate qualities. If so, they should vary strategically with manipulations of mating-related motives. The authors examined this possibility in 4 experiments. Inducing mating goals in men increased their willingness to spend on conspicuous luxuries but not on basic necessities. In women, mating goals boosted public-but not private-helping. Although mating motivation did not generally inspire helping in men, it did induce more helpfulness in contexts in which they could display heroism or dominance. Conversely, although mating motivation did not lead women to conspicuously consume, it did lead women to spend more publicly on helpful causes. Overall, romantic motives seem to produce highly strategic and sex-specific self-presentations best understood within a costly signaling framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-102
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume93
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2007

Keywords

  • altruism
  • conspicuous consumption
  • costly signaling
  • mating goals
  • self-presentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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