Relationship Status Moderates Men’s Conspicuous Consumption of Smartphones
By applying the handicap principle, researchers have investigated men’s conspicuous purchases of high-status products as part of sexual signaling systems. Studies have suggested that, as part of short-term mating strategies, men are particularly willing to engage in conspicuous consumption to attract mates. Yet, this research has neglected to examine how relationship status influences conspicuous consumption. In our web-based study involving 352 participants (229 women), men tending towards short-term mating reported greater purchase intentions for a high-status smartphone only when single or in uncommitted relationships, while no association surfaced between mating strategy and conspicuous consumption among men in committed relationships. Results also revealed that, independent of mating strategy and income, single men and men in uncommitted relationships were more willing to purchase a low-status smartphone. Relationship status did not affect women’s conspicuous consumption. With these findings, we argue that relationship status significantly moderates men’s conspicuous consumption, as well as discuss purchases of low-status products as possible signals of men’s interest in long-term mating.