Most men tend to do dumb things around women just to get their attention — wearing muscle shirts, flexing in muscle shirts, and lying about their job and marital status while wearing and flexing in muscle shirts, for instance. Add this to the list: spending money on stupid things and taking on credit card debt because they sense there’s a scarcity of ladies in the geographic area.
A new study in the Journal or Personality and Social Psychology analyzed financial data from more than 120 U.S. cities and looked at how many credit cards residents owned and how much debt they had, signs the authors say point to economic impulsivity.
They found that in cities with sex ratios that were male-biased — meaning there was an over-abundance of dudes — guys’ desire for “immediate gains” increased and resulted in impulsive spending.
The study then had 205 participants view a number of photos and were told that the people in the photos were singles in their neighborhood – recent graduates or individuals from a local dating site. They were then asked whether they would like to receive $35 tomorrow or $45 in 33 days. The men who felt as if there were a shortage of women wanted the $35 the next day rather than waiting for more money in a month. The authors’ conclusions: A scarcity of women leads guys to compete with each other financially, discount the future, decrease their desire to save, and simply spend stupidly.
This was not the first study to show that sex ratios affect economic behavior. The study’s authors point to other research showing that money decisions are related to mating efforts, including one finding that shows that increased male mating efforts lead to spending on items like designer shoes, fine wines and Porches, and one study even finds that men become more economically impulsive after just touching a woman’s bra.
All of this shouldn’t be that surprising. Most guys make pretty dumb decisions on a regular basis regarding women. As you read this, some guy somewhere is making a choice that he thinks will win him points with a woman but that he will later regret.
These seemingly dumb behaviors are consistent with our growing understanding of evolutionary biology. So the next time you see some dude buying a round of Cosmos for a group of women at a bar, it’s probably because there aren’t that many girls around for him to date. Just let him be. It’s science.