A study ‘in press’ for the British Journal of Psychology sadly supports the stereotype that chicks dig men in flashy cars.
The attractiveness-boosting effect only affects women’s perceptions of men, however. Men were unmoved by chicks in hot rods, and neither sex’s attractiveness ratings for same-sex drivers was affected by the car they were in.
Effect of manipulated prestige-car ownership on both sex attractiveness ratings.
Dunn MJ, Searle R.
Br J Psychol. 2009 Mar 19. [Epub ahead of print]
Previous studies have shown that male attractiveness can be enhanced by manipulation of status through, for example, the medium of costume. The present study experimentally manipulated status by seating the same target model (male and female matched for attractiveness) expressing identical facial expressions and posture in either a ‘high status’ (Silver Bentley Continental GT) or a ‘neutral status’ (Red Ford Fiesta ST) motor-car.
A between-subjects design was used whereby the above photographic images were presented to male and female participants for attractiveness rating. Results showed that the male target model was rated as significantly more attractive on a rating scale of 1-10 when presented to female participants in the high compared to the neutral status context. Males were not influenced by status manipulation, as there was no significant difference between attractiveness ratings for the female seated in the high compared to the neutral condition.
It would appear that despite a noticeable increase in female ownership of prestige/luxury cars over recent years males, unlike females, remain oblivious to such cues in matters pertaining to opposite-sex attraction. These findings support the results of previous status enhancement of attractiveness studies especially those espousing sex differences in mate preferences are due to sex-specific adaptations.
An interesting study testing a well-known stereotype, but what the world really wants to know is whether the clich√© about men with flashy cars having small penises is true.
Considering the car industry and scientific psychology were born at about the same time, it’s disgraceful that such a fundamental study in the psychology of social willy waving has yet to be completed.
Link to PubMed entry for study.