Advertisement

The Effect of Mate Value Discrepancy on Hypothetical Engagement Ring Purchases

  • Jaime M. Cloud
  • Madalyn H. Taylor
Research Article

Abstract

Few material goods entail as high a cost and carry as little practical value as an engagement ring. Despite their obvious signaling value, engagement ring expenditures have rarely been studied. The purpose of the current study was to experimentally manipulate a discrepancy in the physical attractiveness of romantic partners to determine its effect on hypothetical engagement ring purchases. We predicted that (1) men would purchase larger, more expensive engagement rings when imagining themselves mated to a more attractive rather than less attractive woman and (2) women would desire larger, more expensive engagement rings when imagining themselves mated to a less attractive rather than more attractive man. We further predicted a positive correlation between women’s self-ratings of attractiveness and the size and cost of the engagement ring women chose, regardless of target attractiveness. Results supported all three predictions. Data about the cost and quality of actual engagement rings was also collected to explore their correlations with age and attractiveness discrepancies in real-world couples; however, we failed to find a consistent pattern whereby more desirable women received more expensive and higher quality engagement rings. Results from the experimental portion of the current study show that men invest greater resources in attractive women and that increased resource investment can compensate for decreased physical attractiveness within the domain of women’s mate preferences.

Keywords

Assortative mating Mate preferences Physical attractiveness Consumer behavior 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Mark D. Cloud, Carin Perilloux, and Zachary L. Simmons for providing helpful feedback on drafts of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Buss, D. M. (1985). Human mate selection. American Scientist, 73, 47–51.Google Scholar
  2. Buss, D. M. (1988). The evolution of human intrasexual competition: tactics of mate attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 616–628.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35.54.4.616.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Buss, D. M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences: evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures. Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 12, 1–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Buss, D. M., & Barnes, M. (1986). Preferences in human mate selection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(3), 559–570.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.50.3.559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buss, D. M., & Schmitt, D. P. (1993). Sexual strategies theory: a contextual evolutionary analysis of human mating. Psychological Review, 100, 204–232.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.100.2.204.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Cronk, L., & Dunham, B. (2007). Amounts spent on engagement rings reflect aspects of male and female mate quality. Human Nature, 18, 329–333.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-007-9018-9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Fink, B., Grammar, K., & Thornhill, R. (2001). Human (Homo sapiens) facial attractiveness in relation to skin texture and color. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 115, 92–99.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0735-7036.115.1.92.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Gassman, K. (2007). IDEX online research: Bridal jewelry business high-growth & less seasonal. International Diamond Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.idexonline.com/FullArticle?id=27380.
  9. Griskevicius, V., Tybur, J. M., Ackerman, J. M., Delton, A. W., Robertson, T. E., & White, A. E. (2012). The financial consequences of too many men: sex ratio effects on saving, borrowing, and spending. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(1), 69–80.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0024761.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Hrdy, S. B. (1999). Mother nature: maternal instincts and how they shape the human species. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  11. Li, N. P., Bailey, J. M., Kenrick, D. T., & Linsenmeier, J. A. (2002). The necessities and luxuries of mate preferences: testing the tradeoffs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(6), 947–955.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.82.6.947.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. McClintock, E. A. (2014). Beauty and status: the illusion of exchange in partner selection? American Sociological Review, 79(4), 575–604.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122414536391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Miller, G. (2000). The mating mind. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  14. Only 1 in 3. (2017). US marriage proposals are a surprise; engagement ring spend rises, according to The Knot 2017 Jewelry & Engagement Study. XO Group, Inc. Retrieved from https://xogroupinc.com/press-releases/3496.
  15. Saad, G., & Gill, T. (2003). An evolutionary psychology perspective on gift giving among young adults. Psychology & Marketing, 20(9), 765–784.  https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.10096.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Singh, D. (1993). Adaptive significance of female physical attractiveness: role of waist-to-hip ratio. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 293–307.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.65.2.293.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Sugiyama, L. S. (2005). Physical attractiveness in adaptationist perspective. In D. M. Buss (Ed.), The handbook of evolutionary psychology (pp. 292–343). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Symons, D. (1979). The evolution of human sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Thornhill, R., & Gangestad, S. W. (1994). Human fluctuating asymmetry and sexual behavior. Psychological Science, 5, 297–302.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.1994.tb00629.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Watson, D., Klohnen, E. C., Casillas, A., Simms, E. N., Haig, J., & Berry, D. S. (2004). Match makers and deal breakers: analyses of assortative mating in newlywed couples. Journal of Personality, 72(5), 1029–1068.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0022-3506.2004.00289.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Waynforth, D., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (1995). Conditional mate choice strategies in humans: evidence from “lonely hearts” advertisements. Behaviour, 132(9), 755–779.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Zahavi, A. (1975). Mate selection: a selection for a handicap. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 53, 205–214.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-5193(75)90111-3.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychological Sciences DepartmentWestern Oregon UniversityMonmouthUSA

Personalised recommendations