This just in: Women carry expensive purses to fend off jealous women from their boyfriends.
Nope, we're not making this up. A couple of professors from the University of Minnesota conducted a study as to what luxury products signal to other people, and they come to an intriguing conclusion: "Whereas men use conspicuous luxury products to attract mates, women use such products to deter female rivals."
The study, entitled "Conspicuous Consumption, Relationships, and Rivals: Women’s Luxury Products as Signals to Other Women," found through a series of five experiments on 649 women that women specifically used their accessories to "guard their mates" and fend off other women who might "poach" their partners.
Studies of men, the authors say, have typically found that men use luxury goods as a "sexual signaling system" to attract partners. But women aren't trying to attract partners but rather deter other women from grabbing their men. The logic? "Women use luxury products to signal to other women that their romantic partner is especially devoted to them," write the authors. (Emphasis ours.)
Color us skeptical. As Jezebel points out, the whole premise is predicated on women being able to determine the prices of other women's bags at a glance (while "a dude can't tell the difference between a $50 handbag and a $5,000 one"). Additionally, as Alison Freer from xoJane.com helpfully notes, "No man has ever purchased me a designer purse -- with the exception of my dad, and even then all he did was allow me to use his credit card."
Moreover, as most lovers of designer bags will tell you, the price and size of a woman's bag tends to have little bearing on how devoted her partner is -- especially single women, who have no partners at all. Sometimes, an Alexander Wang Rocco Duffel is just a Alexander Wang Rocco Duffel.
Peruse the study yourself here. Do you think there's any validity to this bizarre take on conspicuous consumption?
Are these women all trying to scare off "man poachers"?
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