Intrasexually Competing Women Do Not Differentially Discount Future Appearance Enhancing Products

Abstract

Men have been shown to discount future monetary rewards in several mating contexts, including intrasexual competition. Women, on the other hand, have not displayed differential discounting of future monetary rewards in intrasexual competition contexts. Here, we test the hypothesis that the failure to find delay discounting in women in intrasexual competition contexts may be due to the monetary nature of the reward. Women do not compete with other women for access to men based on monetary status; rather, women compete in other areas, including youthfulness and beauty. In a series of studies, we tested whether women will more steeply discount future appearance enhancing products following an intrasexual competition prime. Results indicated that the intrasexual competition prime did induce intrasexual competition, yet women did not show enhanced discounting a future gain for appearance enhancing products. We suggest that this failure to find enhanced discounting for a future gain may be due to the differential reproductive assurance for women, suggesting sensitivity to the different abundance of mating opportunities for women relative to men, as proposed by Bateman’s principle.

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Correspondence to David R. Widman.

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The research reported in this paper was conducted following the ethical standards put forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Human Research Protections. The research protocol was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board at the institution where the research was conducted.

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Appendices

Appendix 1

Competition Vignette Examples

Imagine you have been dating your partner for 4 years. At every party, you notice this one girl, who you do not know, is always trying to get close to him and take him away from the group. As the year continues, you notice at parties he is paying less and less attention to you, and more attention to this girl. You realize they are directly flirting and they are not trying to hide it. You overhear two people talking about how they cannot believe that after the last party your partner went home with this girl.

You see your partner’s phone on a kitchen table as you walk away; it rings to indicate a text. You go to bring his phone to him in the living room but notice there is a girl’s name and a lot of hearts. Another text comes in and you see that she is calling him “sexy.” You hand him his phone, he looks at the screen, turns it off, and does not say anything.

Non-competition Vignette Examples

Imagine you have been dating your partner for 4 years. At every party, you notice this one girl, who you do not know, is always showing up at the same parties. As the year continues you notice at parties, she is flirting less with lots of guys and instead is coming with one guy in particular. You realize that these two are becoming a couple. As you left the most recent party, you overheard two people talking about how perfect they are for one another.

You see your partner’s phone on a kitchen table as you walk away; it rings to indicate a text. You go to bring his phone to him in the living room but notice there is a girl’s name. Another text comes in and you see that she is calling him for help with her computer; your partner runs a small computer tech business on the side. You hand him his phone, he looks at the screen, turns it off, and says “I can deal with that later.”

Appendix 2

Imagine that you have won a shopping spree for Product from your favorite store that sells Product.

The rules for this shopping spree are as follows:

  1. 1.

    You will have a specific time limit for the spree; the end will be signaled by blowing a whistle

  2. 2.

    You can only shop in the store (or department, if your favorite store selling Product is a department store) that sells Product

  3. 3.

    You will start at the center of the store/department

  4. 4.

    You can only take two of the same items (for example, you can take at most two L’Oreal Color Riche Matte Lipstick in Matte-Traction Red. You could pick another color of the same L’Oreal Color Riche Matte Lipstick or a different brand red lipstick)

  5. 5.

    You must shop alone; no one can help you

  6. 6.

    You must stop immediately when the whistle blows time

  7. 7.

    Only items in the basket at the whistle will be free; if you are holding anything, you will not receive that item

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Widman, D.R., Weldon, R.B. Intrasexually Competing Women Do Not Differentially Discount Future Appearance Enhancing Products. Evolutionary Psychological Science 6, 270–282 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40806-020-00241-1

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Keywords

  • Delay discounting
  • Intrasexual competition