Our obsession with designer handbags and to-die-for shoes may be more of a relationship statement than having anything to do with fashion. A new study suggests women often collect these designer items in an effort to subconsciously signal to other women that they are in a serious relationship.
CBS News reports about the study that will be published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggesting women purchase luxury items to impress upon other women to stay away from their partner. The study’s co-author Vladas Griskevicius explains, “It might seem irrational that each year Americans spend over $250 billion on women's luxury products with an average woman acquiring three new handbags a year, but conspicuous consumption is actually smart for women who want to protect their relationship. When a woman is flaunting designer products, it says to other women 'back off my man.”
Through a series of experiments on more than 600 women, researchers found that when women see other women in possession of designer items they are more likely to assume they are in committed relationships and will refrain from engaging in flirty conversation with their partner.
During one of the other experiments some of the women were given a scenario in which their significant other was actively flirting with another woman. After being told the scenario these women were asked to draw some designer logos on a sheet of paper. The participants who were told the flirting scenario tended to draw much bigger logos than the women who were simply told to draw the logo.
Though buying designer goods seems to be a signal women are sending to other women, men are also familiar with the game of using luxury items to send a message. Griskevicius’ past research has made the claim that men make big ticket purchases to flaunt their wealth and attract mates. Griskevicius explains the difference saying, “The fact that most women's luxury products are aimed to impress other women helps explain why men have a hard time figuring out if a woman's handbag costs $50 or $5,000. Women's designer products are geared to show off to other women not men.”
What do you think of this new study suggesting women purchase designer products in an effort to protect their relationships?
Are you more likely to buy designer goods when you’re in a relationship?