Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Higher testosterone levels makes men desire luxury goods

Higher testosterone levels makes men desire luxury goods

The current study was double-blinded and randomized and used a larger sample size than earlier efforts, 243 men ages 18-55.

The researchers found that men given the testosterone showed greater preference for the brands that were linked to high social status, as well as increased positive attitudes toward the things that were positioned as status-enhancing, but not power-enhancing or high quality. But when these men were faced with a choice between powerful and high-quality goods, they showed no clear preferences.

Each participant was asked to choose their favorite from a pair of brand-name products, such as jeans.

Men who had received testosterone injections were more likely to choose a product with a higher social status, such as a luxury brand.

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Whether it's in his choice of top-shelf alcohol at the club, the watch on his wrist, or the threads that clothe his backside, a man under the influence of the male sex hormone is going to reach for the product that says to potential mates (and to competitors for those mates), "U can't touch this".

The Nature Communications paper describing the study is titled, "Single-Dose Testosterone Administration Increases Men's Preference for Status Goods". These logos were distinguished by belonging to a particular status and quality: these two parameters were assessed, 184 asking the students to rate each brand on a scale from 1 to 100 for both quality and for social rank.

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The male sex steroid hormone testosterone (T) is associated with a range of male reproductive and social behaviors in non-human and human species.

"In the animal kingdom, testosterone promotes aggression but the aggression is in service of status", said one of the study authors, Colin Camerer, from the California Institute of Technology in the US. "A lot of human behaviors are repurposed behaviors seen in our primate relatives".

And in this case, physical aggression is replaced with a sort of "consumer" aggression.

In evolutionary biology, something called the handicap principle explains the presence of seemingly impractical ornaments such as the peacock's tail or a stag's bulky antlers. "It would be easier for the peacock to escape from predators and easier for it to find food if it wasn't carrying that tail around", he says.

According to Gideon Nave, "While the study shows that consumption of positional goods is partly driven by biological motives, it is important not to forget that cultural differences might play a role in the biological underpinnings of status behavior and that status signals are not universal. A human male would probably be better off not spending $300,000 on a auto, but by buying that vehicle, he's showing people that he's wealthy enough that he can".

For those who got the testosterone, status consistently won out over power and quality. For each pair, the products were of similar quality but of different status significance. Talk therapy can help people learn about what is behind their actions and have some control over those actions, he says.

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