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What your flashy car means

Men, you're sending a certain signal to women when you drive an expensive sports car: You're not a keeper.

By Karen Datko Jun 20, 2011 5:45PM

Guys, what's your ultra-sporty car -- say, a Porsche Carrera GT -- costing you besides a big car loan bill and an arm and a leg for insurance?


A meaningful relationship with a member of the opposite sex, perhaps?


That's among the ideas raised by a new study -- "Peacocks, Porsches and Thorstein Veblen: Conspicuous Consumption as a Sexual Signaling System" (.pdf file) -- by researchers at several universities, including the University of Minnesota, Rice and the University of Texas at San Antonio. Your expensive sports car will get you noticed by the ladies -- kind of like a certain male bird known for its plumage -- and might get you a date. 


"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," study co-author Jill Sundie said in a press release.

After that, the high-priced car loses its advantage over cars that cost less to buy and insure. "When women considered him for a long-term relationship, owning the sports car held no advantage relative to owning an economy car," study co-author Daniel Beal said.


In fact, the study also found that men who use flashy cars to attract women are often just looking for a fling, and women have figured this out. Post continues after video.

Once again the bird comparison comes in handy. Sundie said in an interview:

In peacocks, the male makes the very minimal investment in reproduction and mating. He basically mates with the female and that's about it. And the female does everything else -- raises the offspring, takes care of them, feeds them, etc.

Plus, the Porsche doesn't seem very practical. The study says: 

The Porsche Carrera GT does not qualify for the Consumer Reports list of "best buys." The vehicle has very little cargo capacity, has only two seats, gets terrible gas mileage, and is frightfully expensive to repair.

Do women likewise spend great sums to attract men? Uh, not really. "Obviously, women also spend plenty of money on expensive things," Sundie said. "But the anticipation of romance doesn't trigger flashy spending as it does with some men."


In fact, another study suggests that the car a woman drives does nothing to influence her attractiveness to men.


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