A Penny Saved is a Partner Earned: The Romantic Appeal of Savers
Jenny G. Olson
University of Michigan - Ross School of Business
The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan
April 9, 2014
Romantic desire often stimulates conspicuous consumption, but we find that people who chronically save are viewed as more attractive than people who chronically spend. We first demonstrate, in a face-to-face, incentive-compatible study, that people can accurately distinguish between savers and spenders by glancing at them (without communication). Then, in several experiments, we find that savers are viewed as possessing greater general self-control than spenders, and perceived self-control increases savers’ romantic appeal. Potential alternative sources of savers’ appeal (financial viability, reduced materialism) are ruled out. In addition, savers are expected to take better care of themselves, and this expectation favorably biases perceptions of savers’ physical attractiveness. However, because self-control favors prudence over fun, dispositional and situational factors that increase the need for stimulation reduce the allure of savers. Our work elucidates how a fundamental consumption behavior (one’s tendency to spend or save) is perceived and is influential in romantic relationship formation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 54
Keywords: Decision Making, Interpersonal Relationships, Shopping, Consumer Behavior, Consumer Financial Decision Making, Attraction
JEL Classification: M31, C91working papers series
Date posted: June 19, 2013 ; Last revised: April 10, 2014
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