December 7th, 2013
The old adage sex sells may be truer than we think. In fact all it may take for men to spend more money is to show them an attractive woman. Research conducted by the University of Leuven in Belgium, has shown that men who were shown lingerie or pictures of attractive women were more likely to accept deals unfair to them in a financial game designed to test decision-making ability.
In the game, one participant proposed a split of $10, the second participant could either accept the split as offered or decline. Men who had been shown pictures of attractive women or who were asked to judge lingerie before participating in the game were much more likely to accept unfair offers than the control group. The study went a step further and found that this effect was even greater in men who had a naturally higher level of testosterone.
From a business standpoint, this study would seem to suggest that an attractive female salesperson is going to be more successful at separating men from their money in a sales situation. Think of the typical sales transaction involved in buying a car. The price is often highly negotiable and the success of the deal relies on the ability of the salesperson to convince the customer to purchase at a certain price. If the customer is inherently more likely to accept unfair offers, as the Belgian study suggests, when he is shown an attractive woman, then it naturally follows that an attractive woman will have an advantage in these types of sales positions. Of course, skill does count for a substantial portion of anyone’s success in the sales arena. Therefore the advantage for an attractive woman over any other salesperson would only apply if they have a similar level of skill.
If we look around to places where men are often parted with their money, we can see that some businesses are certainly already taking advantage of this principle whether they know it or not. It’s hard to think of a single casino that doesn’t have scantily clad waitresses roaming the gaming floor. Usually they are plying the casino patrons with free drinks, which of course also has a negative effect on one’s ability to make good financial decisions, but the Belgian study suggests that even if these attractive waitresses were handing out water, they would still help the casino earn more as the male patrons would be more likely to wager higher amounts against worse odds.
We’ve heard all the tales of men spending completely unreasonable amounts in strip joints, so we don’t even need to discuss that business model except to say that it, too, seems to support the results of the Belgian study.
The advantage is likely only going to extend to male customers. A separate study would need to be conducted to see if the same sort of visual stimulus has any effect, either positive or negative, on women’s likelihood to spend cash. In the meantime, ladies, remember, when shopping take your man to the lingerie store before you head to the jewelry store.