Gorgeous supermodels have long been panned for the dangerous impact they can have on the female psyche and now new Australian research has found that a glistening set of waxed, spray-tanned abdominal muscles can equally play with the brains of male shoppers too.
As waif-thin catwalk starlets have been blamed for sending women into bouts of depression and eating disorders, it appears images of pretty, shirtless men can make your average Aussie bloke spend more than they should. Which, if anything, is good news for advertisers.
The research was done by Sydney’s University of Technology and surveyed 180 heterosexual male and female respondents.
Each person surveyed was asked to compare themselves to models in an Abercrombie & Finch commercial. They were asked if they considered themselves as attractive/or less attractive to the models featured.
They were then asked to choose between two lottery gambles; one came with a near certainty of winning $50, the other had a fifty per cent chance of winning $100.
The men who rated themselves less handsome were found to take significantly more risk than the men who rated themselves as handsome.
The women, however, generally had a greater appetite for risk than the men and that never changed when they were shown images of Victoria Secrets models.
The head of the research – Dr Eugune Chan – thus determined that there’s some evolutionary trait in males that make them want to be handsome and rich to attract a mate and uglier blokes will take more risks to get there.
“In evolutionary history, men have faced greater intrasexual competition in attracting women as a mating partner,” Chan said in the study’s findings. “Thus, when the average heterosexual man sees an attractive male, he is motivated to increase his desirability, prompting him to accrue money and taking greater financial risks.
“Men who saw more attractive males took greater financial risks than those who saw less attractive one,” he said. Women, however, took similar levels of financial risks if they viewed either more or less attractive females.
Chan believed uglier blokes would take more financial risks because they perceived themselves as less desirable, and what they really wanted to do was to “increase their desirability as a mating partner”.
So what’s all this mean for marketers and the advertising industry? To be honest, we’re not entirely sure either other than to say men with abs could be an excellent way to sell financial services products to uglier, poorer men.
Writing on the UTS Newsroom site, the University’s acting head of the marketing discipline group, David Waller, agreed that Australian banks and financial institutions don’t typically take the ‘fleshy’ route when marketing its products.
“Financial institutions usually don’t take a controversial route when it comes to their messages,” Waller said. “They want to show themselves as strong, dependable, conservative.”
In conclusion, Chan warned men to be aware of any ad featuring bare-chested attractive males.
“Other sexualised advertising might still increase financial risk taking, and this research raises the possibility that even seemingly unrelated ads for clothing, say, might still have an impact on financial decisions,” he said.