Diving into the male psyche can be a tricky business. However, a number of academic institutes did just that, focusing primarily on the tendency for men to spend great deals of money on luxury goods. Some might see it as a fruitless waste of resources, but these institutes took the matter seriously, and came back with results that were in parts predictable and amusing.
The most notable aspect of the result was a link between high testosterone levels and a frequency of purchasing luxury goods. A result that could get a few knowing smirks, of course, but apparently there is some real science behind the conclusions, and a fair amount of interesting statistical evidence.
The academic institutes involved in the study were ZRT Laboratory, the Wharton School, INSEAD, the Sorbonne University, and Caltech. The test subjects included 243 men, aged between 18 to 55. The process involved giving 50% of the men a testosterone laced gel, while the other 50% were given only a placebo.
Then, the group was asked which brands they preferred, with the options given including brands that were notoriously luxurious, and may require you to win big at an online casino in order to afford them, versus those that were less luxurious, and more known for being quality over opulence. As already guessed, those who had taken the gel seemed to prefer the luxury brands.
A further study had the men watch a series of commercials, after which they were asked to rate how much they liked them. The advertisements were designed to emphasise a different nature of the product, some being powerful and status related, while others a more sensible option. Again, the testosterone gel suggested that a need for status and dominance was linked to the hormone.
What’s The Link?
The study is not what would be called conclusive by any means, and the results suggest only a casual link between testosterone and a need to own luxury goods. But what exactly is this link between hormones and expensive products?
Colin Camerer, one of the study authors, spoke on the topic in a press release. According to him, the luxury goods are specifically pushed as being powerful status symbols in order to tap into primal male instincts. Namely, the ones that demand a man assert himself over others, and push himself as an alpha male. The luxury goods are presented as just that; a status symbol over others, and therefore a declaration of alpha male dominance.
In other words, Camerer clarified, these days men fight with their car model, clothing label, and material possessions, as opposed to physical violence. At least that’s the notion that the study is putting forward.
Do Hormones Rule Us?
Testosterone has been linked to aggression, so it certainly plays a part in the psyche, at least to some degree. Though, it’s difficult to draw a straight line between testosterone and the purchasing of luxury goods. As least as far as this particular study goes. Perhaps future studies will offer a bit more clarity.
Instead, it is probably fairer to say that luxury goods tap into the ego, as opposed to specifically those with high testosterone levels. Advertisers certainly know what they’re doing, after all. One brand costing more than another needs to justify its price, and there is no shortage of those who are willing to fork out a little more cash, if it means having status.
As to whether hormones play a role in this isn’t exactly clear, but one thing is for sure; hormones play a big role in our lives.