Why Do Men Buy Corvettes?

The following was extracted from an article in Psychology Today September 13, 2012 by
Dr. Ryan T. Howell, PhD.

We all know about the cliche of the middle-aged man who responds to a "mid-life crisis" by buying a Corvette. It appears that when men feel their virility and attractiveness waning, they respond by finding some way to show that they still have what it takes to be a good mate. In evolutionary terms, this is called costly signaling. Men are signaling that they are still viable mates.

So, why do men buy Corvettes? Because women are attracted to high-status products.

First, researchers in the Netherlands found that simply reminding men of mating opportunities (by showing them pictures of attractive women) increased their desire for status goods. When men want to mate with attractive women, they think of buying things which display their mate value.

Second, researchers in Montreal found that when men engage in conspicuous consumption -- when they buy the Corv ette -- they actually experience a surge of testosterone. .... So, the plot thickens!  But the question then is: do women even notice or care?

In short, yes. A recent study by Belgian scientists found that when women are in the fertile stage of their menstrual cycle, they actually pay more attention and are more attracted to high status products. Women who are not in their fertile phase do not. Women who are on the pill (which disrupts the normal menstral cycle) also do not care so much about status consumption. These results are consistent with other findings that women in their fertile phase rate masculine men as more attractive.

So, we now know that men who are reminded of mating opportunities are motivated to signal their mate value through conspicuous consumption; we also know that when they do they become more mating-ready. Finally, however much we might think this strategy is shallow and crass, it appears to be a reasonably good one, because when women are in their fertile reproductive phase, they are actually more susceptible to this conspicuous consumption ploy.