From the bedroom to the budget deficit: Mate competition changes men's attitudes toward economic redistribution

Andrew Edward White, Douglas Kenrick, Rebecca Neel, Steven Neuberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


How do economic recessions influence attitudes toward redistribution of wealth? From a traditional economic self-interest perspective, attitudes toward redistribution should be affected by one's financial standing. A functional evolutionary approach suggests another possible form of self-interest: That during periods of economic threat, attitudes toward redistribution should be influenced by one's mate-value- especially for men. Using both lab-based experiments and real-world data on voting behavior, we consistently find that economic threats lead low mate-value men to become more prosocial and supportive of redistribution policies, but that the same threats lead high mate-value men to do the opposite. Economic threats do not affect women's attitudes toward redistribution in the same way, and, across studies, financial standing is only weakly associated with attitudes toward redistribution. These findings suggest that during tough economic times, men's attitudes toward redistribution are influenced by something that has seemingly little to do with economic self-interest-their mating psychology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)924-940
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Fairness
  • Political attitudes
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Recession
  • Redistribution
  • Resource scarcity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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