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Men Spend More Money When There are Fewer Women to Date

August 22, 2012

How much are men willing to spend while dating highly depends on a number of women available around them, claims a new research by the University of Minnesota scientists.

According to the new findings, gender ratio, or the percentage of single men versus single women in a certain geographic area, has a significant impact on economic decisions such as how much money a man is willing to spend, borrow or save. In particular, the fewer women there are, the less likely men will want to save money for the future, and the more likely they will be to accumulate a credit card debt. That is, men may start spending more impulsively during their dates or on engagement rings when they sense that there is a shortage of women around them.

Vlad Griskevicius, marketing and psychology professor at University of Minnesota's Carlson's School of Management, who co-authored the research, said that this appears to be a biological factor. He explained that a male-biased gender ratio increases the degree to which men must compete for the members of the opposite gender, and since it is quite important for men to advertise their financial resources through spending and consumption, researchers predicted that shifts in gender ratio would be linked to men's desire for immediate gains.

To test the theory, Griskevicius and his colleagues conducted two separate experiments. In a lab trial of about 600 individuals, they told male college students that there was a scarcity of females on their campuses and in other areas of their lives, and revealed that the students were willing to pay $6.01 more on average for a Valentine's Day present and about $280 more for an engagement ring when compared to their counterparts who were not informed about a supposed scarcity of women.

In a second trial, the scientists collected data in more than 140 U.S. cities, and analyzed how many credit cards the average resident had in possession as well as how much debt they had accumulated. According to the experts, these both behaviors are quite good indicators of impulsivity and overspending. It was revealed that in places where ladies were more scarce, men decreased their savings rate by more than 40 per cent and increased their credit card debt by almost 85 per cent.

The study then had 205 participants (104 of them females) with an average age of 21 years, to look at a number of nature images and headshots. After being told that the photographs were either of people who were registered on a local dating site, recent graduates who still lived in the area, or those who were currently on campus, the subjects were asked to record the number of males and females they viewed. Finally, the investigators asked them all to make a decision in regards with money: would they prefer to receive $35 the next day or $45 in a month?

The men who noticed a shortage of women said that they would prefer to have $35 the following day, while those who felt differently did not have any problem waiting for the pay day at a later time. The same also applied when it came to saving money - men who sensed fewer women around told the investigators that they had no desire to put money away in the bank.

Meanwhile, the way women handle their finances and spending had no correlation to the number of men around them, according to the study. However, it had an impact on things such as career decisions. The team found that women who had been informed about shortage of men in their neighborhoods, and read doctored news articles in order to reflect a scarcity of men, were more likely to opt for high-paying careers when compared to those who had no idea about man shortage.

This study is not the first to show that gender ratios have an impact on people's economic behavior. Griskevicius and his colleagues bring an example of previous investigations which found that money decisions are linked to mating efforts, including one study finding that increased male mating efforts are associated with spending on items such as designer clothes, fine wines and luxury cars, and one research even found that men become more economically impulsive after just touching a woman's undergarments.

The findings are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Tags: Dating, Career & Money