Man guarding

Jealousy may well be, as Dryden said, the jaundice of the soul but it also incredibly common and can drive some bizarre behaviours. Nobody can really benefit from jealousy, least of all the person feeling it, but that doesn’t stop it being felt and acted upon. Even when there is no real basis for it, jealousy can take a foothold in your psyche. Now research is showing that a sort of pre-emptive jealousy can unconsciously shape a woman’s behaviour.

The research involved a series of experiments aimed at triggering a woman’s desire to protect her relationship. For instance, the women were asked to imagine their partner being flirtatious at a party with another woman. After this the women were given the option to buy products and their choices were observed.

The results showed that compared to women who had not imagined their man engaging in jealousy-promoting behaviour, those who had imagined it were much more likely to make luxury purchases. They were more likely to purchase expensive brand names of things like handbags and clothing and even expressed interest cars that were twice the size of those preferred by their non-jealous peers.

This is known as “conspicuous consumption” and it seems that women do it to guard their man. The theory goes that by purchasing expensive products women are saying to potential rivals that their man is devoted to them and willing to spend accordingly. This is interesting because the research tells us that men engage in conspicuous consumption as a display to attract women.

So while one sex spends big to attract mates the other is spending up in order to protect their existing relationship. It’s a case of Venus and Mars living on different planets once again, and don’t think for a second that the advertisers don’t know all about it.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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