The study of 375 subjects sought to understand the perceptions of men when making ostentatious displays. They were asked to read descriptions of two fictional men purchasing cars. While both men were in the position to buy a new car, one of the men opted for a car with bigger wheels, an exaggerated sound system, and new paint. The respondents were then asked to rate the men based on attractiveness, potential for a relationship, and his abilities as a father.
“Participants demonstrated an intuitive understanding that men investing in the display of goods featuring exaggerated sensory properties have reproductive strategies with higher mating effort and greater interest in short-term sexual relationships as well as lower paternal investment and interest in long-term committed romantic relationships than men investing in practical considerations,” explains Daniel Kruger, lead author of the study.
In simpler terms, the man who made the safer purchase was perceived as more frugal, a better provider, and more likely monogamous and interested in a long-term, child-filled future.
“This contrasts with the notion that men's conspicuous resource displays are attractive to women because they reliably signal expected future resource investment in partners and especially in offspring,” said co-author Jessica Kruger.
So what exactly IS the most desirable car for women? Well according to a 2016 survey of 2,000 people by Insure.com found that over a third of women wanted a guy who drove a humble ute. If you want to get even more specific, ladies identified a black Ford as the peak of male attraction, but hey, don’t rush to your latest dealership, I’m sure they’ll be understanding no matter what the brand!