I was reading New Scientist this week and found an article about why women have sex with men who have Porsches. Or at least that was my interpretation. It turns out that a series of psychology experiments have determined that quite a wide range of ladies from young to old will drop them for a man who shows off wealth rather than a man who may have more money but does not show it off. If a dreary, balding, grey-haired, overweight, middle-aged man (eg, me) turns up in a Volvo having invested the balance of his disposable income in a variety of savings instruments directed at long term security, the knickers stay on. On the other hand, if I were to ditch the Volvo and the Schroeders Capital Growth fund and use the proceeds to buy even the dullest of Porsches, they would literally fly off. But why? Are women generally stupid and unable to make calculations as to the long-term best investments to support offspring (as I had thought that natural selection would have demanded)?
Well, it transpires that women of childbearing age will do the Porsche guy not because they think he is a rich and can therefore provide for them and their offspring in the future, but because their hormones mistakenly assume that the Porsche signals good genes (experiments show that the long-term cashflow is heavily discounted). This is clearly a throwback to our pre-civilised past, when the possession of (say) a dead wildebeast probably did signal that the owner was stronger, faster, smarter and therefore had a better genetic makeup. Possession of a Porsche signals no such thing, and yet the ovaries still throb at the display.
Some women will be reassured to know that the experiments demonstrate that men display no such behaviour, because they will have sex with absolutely anyone under any absolutely any circumstances and, even better, will spend their every last penny to do so:
In short, men who saw attractive women became much more motivated to get whatever money they could in the short term, presumably so they could spend it on conspicuous consumption to attract mates[From Sex and shopping – it's a guy thing - life - 01 January 2010 - New Scientist]
Nature or nurture?