Today in exciting studies reinforcing ugly gender stereotypes: Researchers from the University of Minnesota “show” that women are gold-diggers whose interest in owning nice things is all about showing off their status with men. Carlson School of Management Associate Professor Vladas Griskevicius and his PhD student Yajin Wang—no doubt experts in human’s evolutionary biology—have published a study that they claim demonstrates that women want to own designer handbags because they’re hardwired to show off how much their man spends on them so other women back off.
In another study, Griskevicius and Wang made participants feel jealous by having them imagine that another woman was flirting with their man. Shortly afterward, the women completed a seemingly unrelated task in which they drew a luxury brand logo on a handbag. The result? When women felt jealous, they drew designer logos that were twice the size of those in the other conditions.
“The feeling that a relationship is being threatened by another woman automatically triggers women to want to flash Gucci, Chanel, and Fendi to other women,” explains Wang. “A designer handbag or a pair of expensive shoes seems to work like a shield, where wielding a Fendi handbag successfully fends off romantic rivals.”
The researchers claim that their findings, published in that prestigious biology publication the Journal of Consumer Research, show that women see an expensive handbag on another woman and assume that a man bought it for her. Of course, their very own numbers don’t really hold up this rather bold claim, since people who were asked to guess who bought luxury goods for women attributed less than 60 percent of the purchases to male partners, a number that suggests less “hardwired mating strategies” and more “experience-based assessment of the role of gift-giving in 21st century relationships.”
Another wrinkle in the study is that single women also expressed interest in nice things, despite not having men they need to protect from other women with the Gucci man-stealing force field. No worries, say the researchers, because single women with nice bags are defending imaginary boyfriends:
“Many single women obviously want designer products, but instead of these products saying back off my current man, the single woman is saying back off my future man,” adds Wang. “Conspicuous consumption for women has a lot to do with subtle status within the female group.”
But because everything women do is about sex and men—if you read any “pick-up artist” thread on the scientific publication known as Reddit, you’d know this—we can safely assume that single women who want to impress their girlfriends are just showing off the amount of money their imaginary boyfriends will one day spend on them. If you are skeptical, it must be because you don’t believe in evolution.