Indulging in some retail therapy? Studies reveal that men who shop more of luxury brands could be simply reacting to testosterone levels.

This study was conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), University of Western Ontario, Wharton School and diagnostic lab ZRT Laboratory.

Observing testosterone bursts

243 males aged between 18-55 years were selected got a dose of testosterone or placebo gel on their chests. After four hours, they were asked to come back to the research site. This is a period when the levels of testosterone shoot up or peak. During this period, they were asked about preference for consumer goods.

Brand preferences

In the first part of the test, the participants received a10-point scale which had a consumer brand item and its brand status mentioned on one side. On the other side was a brand that was not as luxurious. They were asked to shift the slider towards their preferred brand. Results revealed that most men chose luxurious items with testosterone bursts.

Luxury and power

In the second test, these men were shown many consumer goods ads like sunglasses or even trousers. Three random visions of these ads were shown to them. All these advertisements emphasized the opulence, power and quality of the bran. The participants were again asked to rate these products. Men with higher levels of testosterone preferred luxury brands. However, those men who showed no increase in the level didn’t opt for such brands.

Spiking levels of testosterone

Though the stimulation of testosterone levels here was artificial, men often get a natural boost of this after events like sports, marriage, graduation, etc. During such phases of life, men opt for status-related brands.

Colin Camerer, Ph.D., who works at Caltech adds that the primary function of testosterone is to create status-seeking and protecting attributes. This has been already seen in the animal kingdom. When it comes to the primate group, aggressive or rather extreme forms of behaviour are common when the testosterone levels are bursting — in humans, this is replaced with consumer aggression.

Comparison with Showy Peacock Tails

Researches have also compared this behaviour of men to the additional weight that male peacocks carry around. The tail does not attract females, and the loss of the tail would make it easy for them to escape in case of predators. In the same way, men spending more on a car or showing off is a similar behavioural trait.

Biological behaviour can influence the financial spending of these men. With increased or bursting levels of testosterone, such men are more likely to be spendthrift. The research further added that such behaviour would not be easy to change since it was fuelled because of biological reasons.

Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, MD — professor of psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College added that along with biological factors, the environment, your upbringing, etc. also had an impact on social behaviour — especially indulging in brands. If you feel that your bad decisions are driven by biology, it will be wise to take the required action.

Medically reviewed by Rishabh Verma, RP

High testosterone levels spike spending habits