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why women desire conspicuous luxury romatics gifts 169399

Doctoral dissertation in Business Administration

WHY WOMEN DESIRE CONSPICUOUS
LUXURY ROMANTIC GIFTS?
-THE MEDIATING ROLE OF “BEING LOVED” SOCIAL COMPARISON-

Department of Business Administration, Major in Marketing

Tran Thi Tuyet
Supervised by Professor Choi, Jinmyung

August, 2018

Graduate School of Daegu University


WHY WOMEN DESIRE CONSPICUOUS
LUXURY ROMANTIC GIFTS?
-THE MEDIATING ROLE OF “BEING LOVED” SOCIAL COMPARISONIn partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of
Philosophy in Business Administration
Department of Business Administration, Major in Marketing


Tran Thi Tuyet
Supervised by Professor Choi, Jinmyung
Confirming Tran Thi Tuyet’s doctoral dissertation in Business Administration
August, 2018

Chairman of Screening ________________ (Signature)
Member of Screening __________________(Signature)
Member of Screening _________________ (Signature)
Member of Screening _________________ (Signature)
Member of Screening _________________ (Signature)

Graduate School of Daegu University


TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................... 1
1. Research motivation .....................................................................................1
2. Purpose and method of study ........................................................................3

II. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND ........................................................ 4
1. Women’s desire for romantic gifts.................................................................4
2. Evolutionary psychology of women’s desire .................................................6
3. Intrasexual competition and women’s desire for romantic gifts .....................7
4. Mate retention and women’s desire for luxury romantic gifts ......................10
5. “Being loved” social comparison ................................................................13
6. Hypotheses .................................................................................................16

III. EMPIRICAL STUDY ............................................................................ 20
1. Study 1 .......................................................................................................20
1) Method .................................................................................................... 20
2) Result and discussion ................................................................................ 27

2. Study 2 .......................................................................................................30
1) Method .................................................................................................... 30
2) Result and discussion ................................................................................ 41

3. Study 3 .......................................................................................................54
1) Method .................................................................................................... 54
2) Result and discussion ................................................................................ 58



IV. CONCLUSION ....................................................................................... 79
1. General discussion ......................................................................................79
2. Implications and Conclusion.......................................................................80
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3. Limitations and Future Directions ...............................................................82

REFERENCES .............................................................................................. 84
ABSTRACT...................................................................................................... 93
APPENDIX 1.................................................................................................... 94
APPENDIX 2.................................................................................................... 95

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LIST OF TABLES
Table 1. Sample Characteristics ......................................................................... 22
Table 2. Manipulation check for feeling closeness, luxury goods, and scenario
quality ............................................................................................................... 26
Table 3. Descriptive statistics for “being loved” perception................................ 28
Table 4. Tests of Between-Subjects Effects ........................................................ 29
Table 5. Sample characteristics .......................................................................... 32
Table 6. “Being loved” comparison elicited by three conditions......................... 35
Table 7. Luxury goods evaluation between two conditions................................. 35
Table 8. Scenario quality ................................................................................... 36
Table 9. Rotated Component Matrix of product items ........................................ 37
Table 10. Conspicuous and inconspicuous luxury goods construct reliability ..... 38
Table 11. Rotated component matrix of luxury cosmetics................................... 39
Table 12. (in)Conspicuous luxury cosmetics construct reliability ....................... 39
Table 13. Descriptive statistics for “being loved” comparison............................ 41
Table 14. Descriptive statistics for women’s conspicuous goods desire .............. 43
Table 15. Descriptive statistics for women’s inconspicuous goods desire ........... 44
Table 16. Descriptive statistics for women’s conspicuous cosmetics desire ........ 44
Table 17. Descriptive statistics for women’s inconspicuous cosmetics desire ..... 45
Table 18. Regression results of simple mediation (a).......................................... 47
Table 19. Regression results of simple mediation (b) ......................................... 49
Table 20. Regression results of simple mediation (c).......................................... 51
Table 21. Regression results of simple mediation (d) ......................................... 53
Table 22. Descriptive statistics for “being loved” comparison............................ 59
Table 23. Descriptive statistics for women’s conspicuous goods desire .............. 60
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Table 24. Regression results of simple mediation (e).......................................... 63
Table 25. Descriptive statistics for women’s conspicuous goods desire (b)......... 65
Table 26. Descriptive statistics for women’s inconspicuous goods desire ........... 66
Table 27. Descriptive statistics for women’s conspicuous goods buying............. 66
Table 28. Descriptive statistics for women’s inconspicuous goods buying.......... 67
Table 29. Regression results of simple mediation (f) .......................................... 69
Table 30. Regression results of simple mediation (g) ......................................... 73
Table 31. Regression results of simple mediation (h) ......................................... 75
Table 32. Regression results of simple mediation (i) .......................................... 77

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LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1. Effect of comparison target’s luxury romantic gift on “Being loved”
perception.......................................................................................................... 29
Figure 2. Proposed model (a) ............................................................................. 40
Figure 3. Effect of luxury gift on “being loved” comparison .............................. 42
Figure 4. Effect of luxury gift on women’s conspicuous goods desire ................ 43
Figure 5. Mediated model for effect of luxury gift on women’s conspicuous goods
desire via “being loved” comparison.................................................................. 48
Figure 6. Proposed model (b)............................................................................. 57
Figure 7. Effect of competitiveness of social network on “being loved”
comparison........................................................................................................ 59
Figure 8. Effect of competitiveness of social network on women’s conspicuous
goods desire (a) ................................................................................................. 61
Figure 9. Mediated model for effect of competitiveness of social network on
women’s conspicuous goods desire via “being loved” comparison (a) ............... 64
Figure 10. Effect of competitiveness of social network on women’s conspicuous
goods desire (b) ................................................................................................. 65
Figure 11. Mediated model for effect of competitiveness of social network on
women’s conspicuous goods desire via “being loved” comparison (b) ............... 71

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Why Women Desire Conspicuous Luxury Romantic Gifts?
-The Mediating Role of Being Loved Social Comparison-

Tran Thi Tuyet
Department of Business Administration
Graduate School, Daegu University
Gyeongbuk Korea

Supervised by Professor Choi, Jinmyung
(Abstract)
Can close friends’ luxury romantic gifts (from romantic partners) affect other women’s
consumption of luxury goods? This study examines whether a woman’s luxury gift affects her
same-sex close friends’ desire for luxury gifts. Besides, “being loved” social comparison (e.g., my
friend seems to be more loved than I am) is a psychological mechanism that makes women
compare their relationship to others’. Experiment 1 shows that a close friend (vs. stranger) who get
a luxury (vs. non-luxury) gift from her romantic partner will trigger other women to make “being
loved” social comparison. Experiment 2 finds that women expose to their friends’ luxury (vs. nonluxury) gifts will desire conspicuous (vs. inconspicuous) luxury gifts via “being loved” social
comparison mindset. Finally, a survey shows that women in a higher competitive social network
(frequency of exposing to friend with luxury gifts) also have a higher desire for luxury romantic
gifts. These results contribute to a better understanding of women’s desire for luxury romantic gifts.
It also illustrates that that evolutionary psychological approaches can be useful for understanding
consumer behavior.
Keywords: women’s desire, “being loved” comparison, luxury goods, evolutionary psychology

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I. INTRODUCTION
1. Research motivation
Humans are a sexually dimorphic species, meaning that each sex behaves
differently than does the other in many ways. For example, men and women act
differently in risk-taking (Byrnes, Miller, & Schafer, 1999), in aggression
(Bettencourt & Miller, 1996; Lagerspetz, Björkqvist, & Peltonen, 1988; Salmivalli
& Kaukiainen, 2004), in depression (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2001; Nolen-Hoeksema &
Girgus, 1994) or in displaying blatant benevolence behavior (Griskevicius et al.,
2007). Moreover, in marketing, marketers also use gender as an essential
segmentation because men and women are different from consuming products.
For example, men and women are different from responding to price, advertising,
social influence while shopping or purchasing and reacting with internet
advertising or in displaying loyalty to brand (Audrain-Pontevia & Vanhuele, 2016;
Garbarino & Strahilevitz, 2004; Kurt, Inman, & Argo, 2011; McMahan, Hovland,
& McMillan, 2013; Melnyk, Osselaer, & Bijmolt, 2009). Thus, it seems that men
and women are psychologically different.
Men and women are also different in gift-giving behavior. According to
Sherry and McGrath (1989), gift giving is “work of women." As compared to men,
women offered more gifts than they received (Caplow, 1982; Fischer & Arnold,
1990), they paid more on average (Rucker et al., 1991) and were more satisfied
with their gift selection (Fischer & Arnold, 1990). However, these findings have
confined to contexts other than romantic relationships (such as gift giving during
Christmas). In a romantic relationship, it has been found that it is men and not
women that play a more significant role in gift giving in the context of courtship
(Saad & Gill, 2003).
Gift giving could have evolved as a distinctly male courtship strategy (Saad &
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Gill, 2003). According to Trivers’ (1972) parental investment theory and Buss’s
(1989) mate preferences, men are less investing sex, men prefer sexual variety for
increasing reproductive success, whereas women are high investing sex, their
preference is generous men with resources. Therefore, men use gifts as a strategy
to advance their fitness outcomes because men believe that gifts can be exchanged
for sexual favors (Belk & Coon, 1993). Stating a differently, men are tactical for
offering gifts to a romantic partner and will stop offering gifts once a woman
confesses her love (Belk & Coon, 1993). In courtship context, men’s motivations
(functions) in offering gifts to female partners seem to be obvious, while women’s
motivations (functions) in receiving gifts from male partners remain unclear.
The purpose of this study was to investigate women’s motivation in receiving
gifts under dating context. For men, gift giving can serve as adaptive tactics in the
courtship context. For women, there is a reason to believe that women’s
motivations to get gifts from romantic partners (romantic gift) might serve as an
adaptive function which is beneficial for them and their offspring's survival
strategy. It is because by seeing the number of money men spend on a romantic
gift, women can make inferences on how much men desire (love) them and men
commit to her. The more a man is willing to invest his resources in a relationship,
the more commitment he makes, and thus the less he will leave the relationship
(Buss, 1988) (mate retention strategy). Moreover, receiving a romantic gift can
help a woman to boast how much her romantic partner commits to her. Thus,
obtaining a romantic gift might help to ward off potential rivals (intrasexual
competition) (discuss later). If these arguments are correct, women are not merely
passive in receiving gifts (e.g., men give gifts and women receive). They might be
active in receiving gifts (asking or requesting for gifts). By examining adaptive
functions of women’s receiving gifts from a romantic partner, we can understand
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the nature of women’s desire and its functions. As stated in Nguyen’s (2014)
thesis, men and women have a distinct desire in a romantic relationship “a man
desires a woman as the object of his desire, whereas a woman desires to be the
target object a man desires” (Nguyen, 2014, p. 2). Although Nguyen (2014) has
proposed gendered desire, she has not studied adaptive functions of women’s
desire. Hence, this study will further examine adaptive functions of women’s
desire.
Interestingly, there has been a growing interest in consumer desire. Because
"desire is the motivating force behind much of contemporary consumption" (Belk,
Ger, & Askegaard, 2003, p. 326). Although desire is a fundamental force in
explaining people consuming behavior, there is limited understanding of
consumer desire and its functions. Thus, this study aims to explore the function of
desire under evolutionary psychology perspective, which, in turn, helps to
understand consumer desire.
2. Purpose and method of study
This study aims to explain “why do women desire gifts from their romantic
partner?” under the perspective of evolutionary psychology. A woman desires to
identify whether or not she is a target object a man desires may function to help a
woman to ward off one’s same-sex rivals (intrasexual competition) and to avoid
being abandoned from male partners (mate retention) which, in turn, influences
women consumer decisions.
This study will use two experimental studies and one survey to test our
hypotheses. It predicted that under being loved social comparison mindset,
women are more likely to desire conspicuous luxury goods (not inconspicuous
luxury goods) when their same-sex friends get a romantic gift or when they are in
the high competitiveness of social network.
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II. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
1. Women’s desire for romantic gifts
A gift is defined as goods or services voluntarily provided to other person or
group through some ritual presentation (Belk, 1979). Gifts can include both the
tangible and intangible. It can also be material and nonmaterial gifts. Nonmaterial
gifts involve helping the other person when they are stressed for time, lending a
car, and so on (Belk & Coon, 1991). Gift giving is one of the processes that
integrate a society (Sherry, 1983). Regarding romantic gift giving, dating gifts,
different from general product consumption, are typically highly motivated (Faure
& Mick, 1993). They are mainly used as a token of love and are used to express
the feelings of love and commitment toward others (Belk & Coon, 1993;
Goodwin, Smith, & Spiggle, 1990; Schiffman & Cohn, 2009). Therefore, they are
nonessential and are not purchased based on needs.
Men and women are different in gift-giving behavior. Social structural theory
can explain the sex differences. The social structural theory emphasizes that
culture is the primary factor of gender differences with little effect of biology (size,
strength, lactation, and childbearing). According to this theory, men and women
occupy different social roles. Thus they tend to be different (Eagly, 1995). For
instance, women are assigned to a housekeeper role, they are responsible for
buying, choosing, and preparing for gifts, and thus they are a gift giver (Sherry &
McGrath, 1989). On the other hand, men are a gift receiver. Nonetheless, Saad
and Gill (2003) found that these roles of men and women are not correct in
romantic relationships. Thus, social structure theory has limited contributions in
explaining sex differences in gift-giving behavior.
In a romantic relationship, although Belk and Coon (1993) found that men, not
women, offer a gift to romantic partners as it helps men to celebrate the
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relationship or to establish, strengthen, maintain a social relationship, and by
giving a gift to a woman, a man shows his commitment to her. However, this
behavior will change depending on the stages of a romantic relationship. For
example, in the initial stage (flirting stage), men are supposed to be a gift giver. In
enlightenment (being a couple) stage, the expectation of giving and receiving of
men and women are quite similar. And in the commitment (engagement or
married) stage, men stop offering gifts once their date is “won” (i.e., the woman
confesses her love) (Belk & Coon, 1993). So gift-giving could have evolved as a
distinctly male courtship strategy for attracting and retaining mates (Buss &
Schmitt, 1993). It can be stated differently, for men, gifts are means to achieve
their ultimate goal.
What about women? Do women use gifts as a means to increase their
reproductive success? The answer is yes, but it is very different from men’s
strategy. In this study, we propose that women’s desire for a luxury gift from
romantic partners as a tactic to advance their fitness outcome. For instance, men
often give gifts to women during the courtship period. It might be beneficial for
him to increase ultimate goal (increase sexual variety and hence increase
reproductive success). On the other hand, a woman's desire for a romantic gift
because this gift is considered as a man's investment in a relationship (how much
she feels her romantic partner loves her). Thus, by seeing the amount of money
that men spend on a romantic gift, women can make inference about how much
men desire (love) them (desire to be a target of men desire). The more a man is
willing to invest his resources in a relationship, the more he desires a woman, and
the less a man persuades short-term strategy. Moreover, receiving a romantic gift
can help a woman to boast how much her romantic partner commits to a
relationship. This gift helps to ward off potential rivals (intrasexual competition).
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Recently, this questions “why does a woman keep asking for a gift from her
romantic partner? Is she a gold-digger?” are posted on social media, and this
receives a lot of people’s attention (both men and women). However, there has
been no study trying to investigate this. Thus, this study will try to explain this
phenomenon under evolutionary psychology.
2. Evolutionary psychology of women’s desire
Sex differences are stemmed from the theory of sexual selection initially
proposed by Darwin (1871) and then further developed by Trivers (1972).
According to Trivers’s theory (1972), men invest relatively less in offspring than
women do. They need to invest only replenishable cheap sperm (Buss, 2015), and
thus they are only constrained by a number of fertile women they can impregnate.
Women, in contrast, invest more resources in offspring. They are restricted by a
number of children they can produce (Geary, Vigil, & Byrd-Craven, 2004)
because a woman can produce limited numbers of a fertilized egg in their lifespan
(Trivers, 1972). Thus, they will produce roughly the same number of offspring in
a given breeding season, regardless of how many males they mate with. Moreover,
for each child women produce, they need to invest substantial resources such as
time, energy or effort.
The difference in the obligation investment makes men and women have
evolved different reproductive strategies. For men, they can increase reproductive
success by displaying tactics to inseminate as many female mates as possible. For
example, when men see an opportunity of sexual intimacy, they tend to be kind,
more generous, willing to pay for a date, etc. Men are willing to buy conspicuous
consumption to attract the opposite mate (Griskevicius, Tybur, Gangestad, Perea,
& Shapiro, 2009; Griskevicius et al., 2007; Miller, 2000; Zahavi & Zahavi, 1997).
In contrast, for women, they have more to lose when making poor mating choices.
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Therefore, they should select the man who has not only good genes but also is
able and willing to invest resources in offspring.
According to parental investment theory, it is well understood that a woman is
very cautious in selecting a man as a romantic partner. A woman will choose a
man who has resources and commits to invest in her and her offspring for long
period of nourishment. A man, concerning gendered reproductive strategies, has
evolved a strategy to inseminate as many female mates as possible, while a
woman might have advanced a strategy to keep being interested in, and sexually
attracted by a man. It is why what is the most concerned by a woman is how much
she loves her partner but how much her romantic partner loves (desires) her. A
man's desire is a sexual urge, and a woman desires to be target object of a man
desires. (Being loved by a romantic partner in this research is not only merely
feeling emotion but is an act of a man’s commitment, ability and willingness to
secure the survival of a woman’s offspring).
3. Intrasexual competition and women’s desire for romantic gifts
The Oxford English Dictionary defines "competition" as "the activity or
condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing
superiority over others." In making an argument for the existence of natural
selection, Darwin (1871) emphasized the importance of competition for limited
resources in “struggle for existence” throughout individual’s lifetimes. He argued
that resources are limited while more individuals are produced at a rapid rate.
Thus, individual needs to compete with each other for having resources, and
hence to survive. So competition is favored by natural selection (Darwin, 1871).
Over the course of recorded history, individuals have competed with one
another for status, wealth, territory, food, resources, and mating opportunities,
with victors typically gaining an advantage regarding survival and reproduction
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(Darwin, 1871). From an evolutionary perspective, such competition has been
regarded to occur most frequently among males, not females. It is because males
often display overt aggression and it is easily seen, while females are the sex that
provides of parental care (in more than 95% of mammalian species), and females
are primarily passive mate selectors. Thus they engage in low levels of
competition. However, recently, there have been many authors finding supporting
empirical evidence that inhuman females do compete and competition among
females may aid in the acquisition of reproductively relevant resources (CluttonBrock, 2009), for the protection of offspring, food, nesting sites.
In human females, consistent with most other species, competition often
occurs when a female seeks access to a fitness-enhancing resource that has limited
availability. If the individual has access to the desired resources, this typically
indicates that others will have less opportunity to access to the desired resource.
Although females compete over access to numerous resources including food,
water, and shelter, perhaps these resources that cause women to compete with the
same-sex rivals is to access to a high-quality mate. Some men possess more
highly desired characteristics (e.g., high status) than others, and this makes them
preferable for mating partners. Therefore, women compete among the same sex
for access to such desire mating targets (Cox & Fisher, 2008), then for retaining
these mates. This competition is known as female intrasexual competition.
Intrasexual competition is when member of the same-sex compete with each
other over a potential mate. Members of one sex rival one another by displaying
their value to potential mates or through direct dominance and threat displays or
other aggressive behavior (Thornhill & Alcock, 1983). It is important to note that
intrasexual competition need not be limited to mate acquisition: after copulation,
sperm competition (Hoelzel, Le Boeuf, Reiter, & Campagna, 1999), as a form of
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indirect competition as well as mate-guarding behavior (Galimberti, Boitani, &
Marzetti, 2000), also serve to maintain the likelihood of paternity.
Men and women are different from employing competitive strategies. Women,
in comparison to men, less often exhibit extreme forms of overt physical and
sexual aggression (Archer, 2004). Women tend to lose concerning reproductive
fitness from potential physically damaging confrontations. Hence, they show risk
aversion in intrasexual competition (Campbell, 2004). Even though humans are
effective biparental species, women still provide the bulk of obligatory parental
care. Thus, a mother's death is more debilitating to a child's survival compared to
the death of a father (Sear, Mace, & McGregor, 2000). Besides, a man’s inclusive
fitness may rely on a copulatory opportunity, whereas a woman’s fitness success
relies more heavily on her successful rearing her children through early life
(Campbell, 2004). Accordingly, it is more important to a woman to remain alive to
rear their offspring (Campbell, 2004), and to avoid the costs associated with direct
aggression and other risky forms of competition. As a result, women use subtler
tactics and less risky aggressive strategies to compete with same-sex rivals
(Vaillancourt, 2013).
Evolution would favor women who can successfully defeat same-sex
competitors in the intrasexual competition. To deploy an optimal mating strategy
for successfully competing for mates, a woman needs to approximate the
desirability of members of one’s own sex to current or potential mates (Hill, 2007,
pp. 118). In reality, the desirability to current or potential mates is often kept
privately or concealed for strategic purposes. Thus, this estimation will almost
always contain some “degree of error” (Hill, 2007, pp.118). There are two types
of errors that can occur when assessing the desirability of one's same-sex mating
competition: (a) assuming intrasexual rivals are more desirable to the opposite sex
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than they actually are (overestimation bias) or (b) assuming intrasexual rivals are
less desirable to the opposite sex than they actually are (underestimation bias).
There are some benefits when a woman overestimates the desirability of samesex rivals. Namely, she continues to maintain or improve their current desirability
to potential or current mates and is sufficiently vigilant in retaining their current
mate. However, overestimating rivals’ desirability can be costly. These costs are
time, effort and money that a woman puts more on mate retention than are truly
necessary. As compared to losing desirable mates, these costs are trivial. In
contrast, a woman who underestimates their opponents ultimately increases the
risk of defeat because she is underprepared for the competition. Thus, she might
failure to attract or retain a mate. Consequently, if a woman wants to maximize
benefits while avoiding severe costs, they most likely overestimate the rivals’
desirability to increase the likelihood of successful mating outcomes by
performing necessary mate retention tactics or striving to maintain or augment
their own mate value.
Due to adapting overestimating bias, a woman often displays strategies to
retain mates in mating competition (Hill, 2007). This study suggests the possibly
sufficient tactic is to show how much a romantic partner makes a commitment to a
woman or how much a woman is being loved by her romantic partner. This
showing can be effective because other women show less intention to pursue a
devoted man (Wang & Griskevicius, 2013). A luxury romantic gift can help a
woman to gain this ultimate goal.
4. Mate retention and women’s desire for luxury romantic gifts
The competitive strategies of women are by no means limited to intrasexual
(female-female) conflict. Women can also benefit their reproductive fitness by
competing with mating partners to express their preferred sexual strategy. The
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preferred strategies here refer to mate guarding tactics which are defined as
behaviors employed by a female with the aim of maintaining reproductive
opportunities and sexual access to a male partner. These involve discouraging the
current mate from abandoning the relationship while also warding off potential
rivals.
In the previous section, we know that women are the high investing sex, and
they will endure relatively higher costs if choosing a wrong partner. Thus, they
have evolved mate preferences for men with resources. However, a mate with
resources does not ensure that he is willing to invest in a woman and her offspring
for a long time. Therefore, it is necessary for women to verify the men’s
commitment continually, to confirm whether she is being interested in, attracted
by a man. Two theories explain the frequently check men's commitment. Firstly,
social exchange theory analyzes interactions between two parties by examining
the costs and benefits to each (Homans, 1958). For social interactions occur, each
party must give something to other and gain something from the other. These
intereactions only continue when each party gain more than it loses. In the mating
market, sexual access is a female resource (Baumeister & Vohs, 2004) and
physiology (e.g., gestation, lactation) is a female cost. Economics resource is
controlled by men, and men cost is almost nothing concerning physiology as
compared to women. Once participating in the exchange process, women and men
exchange sexual, physiological, and economic resources. When both sexes offer
sexual access, only women provide physiological cost, while men tend to be
relatively stronger contributors to financial resources. However, the critical
difference is that women's physiological resources are necessarily bundled with
sexual access, whereas men's economic resources are not. Thus, women sexual
resources are more valuable to men than men sexual resource to women (Kenrick,
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Groth, Trost, & Sadalla, 1993). As such, in romantic relationships women tend to
“sell," and men tend to “buy” sexual access (Baumeister & Vohs, 2004). In the
mating market, women want to sell at a high price while men want to buy at low
price. Thus, for reducing the costs (physiological costs), women should make men
buy at the high price. Stating differently, women should make men invest more
resources in them to reduce physiological costs. By regularly checking the number
of resources a man invests in the romantic relationship, a woman can make
inferences whether or not he will commit to her. If a man is able and willing to
invest more resources in the relationship, it means he seems to make high-level of
commitment to a woman, and thus it might reduce men’s intention to leave the
current relationship. Consistent with the statement of Buss (1988), the more
substantial investment in a particular mating, the fewer number of sexual partners
a given man can access, and thus the less likely the man abandons the current
relationship. In summary, a woman desires to see whether she is a target object a
man desires help them to verify the level of commitment a man makes in the
relationship and to avoid a man who persuades short-term strategies.
Secondly, according to error management theory, a woman can never be
certain about the feelings or actions of her romantic partner, and thus some risk
(error) in romantic decision making is inevitable, a woman exhibit biases to
minimize the costs of making a wrong reproductive decision which is called a
commitment-skepticism bias (Haselton & Buss, 2000). This bias means women's
inferences of the men's commitment intent would is less than actually present. For
women, the costs of falsely inferring a prospective mate’s commitment when little
or none exists are greater than the costs of failing to infer commitment that does
exist. Ancestral women who consent to sex with a man who abandoned her shortly
thereafter because of his low level of commitment can have suffered the cost of an
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unwanted or untimely pregnancy, raising a child without an investing mate, a
reduction in her mate value, and reputation damage (Buss, 2016). There were
substantial costs for women because it affects to a child’s survival and women’s
reproductive in the future. This bias is consistent with the idea that woman wants
to minimize selling error (selling too low). Thus, underestimating a man’s
commitment can make a woman regularly confirm the degree of a man's
commitment.
In the dating context, although the gift per se is meaningless (Belk & Coon,
1993), this gift is significant to women in a relationship because it makes a
woman feel how much she is being loved by her romantic partner. This gift also
represents a level of commitment (Mick & Demoss, 1990) that the male partner
makes into the relationship. Thus, by continually asking for a luxury romantic gift,
a woman can help them to see the willingness of a man's investment in the
relationship and to avoid a man who persuades short-term strategies, as well as to
confirm the degree of a man's commitment.
5. “Being loved” social comparison
Festinger (1954) indicated that people are motivated to evaluate their opinions,
abilities, personal characteristics, and so on. When uncertain about how the self is
doing, individuals often look to others to assess their situation, resulting in social
comparison. The process of social comparison begins when individuals encounter
information about others. This information is then evaluated in a relation to
oneself. Based on this evaluation, people then conclude that the individual being
compared to is better off, worse off, or about the same as them (Wood, 1996).
There are referred to as upward, downward, and lateral comparison, respectively.
Upward social comparisons focuses on identifying others who are thought to be
superior to the self one some dimension (Wood, 1996). This type of comparisons
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are more likely to lead to negative moods (Festinger, 1954; Tesser, Millar, &
Moore, 1988). Indeed, upward comparisons are related to lowered self-esteem;
feelings of jealousy, frustration, and envy, and devaluation of the comparison
domain (White, Langer, Yariv, & Welch, 2006). In contrast, downward social
comparisons can be defined as the process in which an individual evaluates
himself/herself based on someone who is thought to be inferior on some
dimension (Wood, 1996). Such downward comparisons are often centered on
making ourselves feel better about our abilities, attitudes, and beliefs, and hence
can result in more positive effects. Although downward comparisons can produce
positive effects, Festinger (1954) argues that as long as upward comparisons are
not harmful, individuals may seek comparisons with slightly superior others to
gain information on how to improve themselves. In summary, social comparison
is an essential source of information individuals use to make sense of their
abilities, personal characteristics and so on.
Despite the prominence of social comparison theory in social psychology, this
theory has rarely been applied to a comparison of romantic relationships. However,
it is becoming clearer that people do sometimes compare their relationships with
others (Titus, 1980; Wayment & Campbell, 2000) and such comparison have
affective and evaluative consequences (Buunk, Oldersma, & de Dreu, 2001;
Buunk & Ybema, 2003). For example, in Western cultures, individuals not only
compare themselves to others (Lockwood, 2002; Tesser & Collins, 1988) and their
dating partner (Lockwood, Dolderman, Sadler, & Gerchak, 2004), but they also
compare their romantic partner and the state of their relationship to others (Buunk,
2001; Buunk, Oldersma, & de Dreu, 2001; Morry & Sucharyna, 2016). These
relationship social comparisons can be used to assess the suitability of the partner;
feelings and experiences in the relationship; or to evaluate one’s beliefs about
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close relationships (e.g., divorce) (Stalder, 2012). Moreover, Titus (1980)
surveyed 30 couples and found that over half of couples, at least one member of
the couples make comparisons of their marriage to a friend’s marriage when
talking either to friends or spouses. These comparisons often result in enhancing
one’s relationship relative to others’ relationships (Buunk & van der Eijnden,
1997). This enhancement is similar to other illusions of superiority individuals
have, such as being more satisfying, or having a better future than others’
relationships. Thus, it can be said that people do make relationship comparison
during dating period.
Most research when examining relationship social comparisons with dating
individuals, they have focused on the effect of relationship social comparison to
dating relationship quality, behaviors and moods (Morry & Sucharyna, 2016;
Smith LeBeau & Buckingham, 2008), whereas none to my knowledge have
examined “being loved” social comparison. There is evidence that people do
compare their love to that of others. In the study of Morry & Sucharyna (2016),
they found that dating individuals “love” upward comparison item has high
loading on negative interpretation (we must not love each other as much as they
do) which, in turns, lead to negative moods, lower relationship quality.
“Being loved” in this research refers to how much commitments romantic
partners make to relationships. “Being loved” social comparisons occur when a
woman compares levels of commitment that her romantic partners make to her
relatively to these that their friends’ romantic partners make them. “Being loved”
upward social comparisons occur when a woman compares how much she is
loved by her romantic partners and feel she is not being loved as much as the love
her friends get from their partners. Being loved upward comparisons are more
likely to lead to negative moods (Morry & Sucharyna, 2016). In contrast,
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downward social comparisons occur when a woman compares how much she is
loved by her romantic partner and feel she is more loved than the love her friends
get from their partners. Such downward comparisons are often centered on
making ourselves feel better about relationships.
Recently, Buunk and Fisher (2009) have found that social comparisons are
positively correlated with the intrasexual competition. For instance, females in
romantic relationships have been shown to make more appearance comparisons
and are more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors toward female peers
(Arnocky, Sunderani, Miller, & Vaillancourt, 2012). Similarly, this study argues
that females do make being loved comparison and if they fall in upward
comparison, they are more inclined to engage in aggressive tactics of intrasexual
competition. It is expected that intrasexually-competitive individuals would be
more likely to make being loved social comparison, and such comparisons would
lead to women’s desire for conspicuous luxury goods (aggressive tactics of
intrasexual competition as argued in previous parts).
6. Hypotheses
The purpose of this study is to base on adaptive function of the desire to
explain women’s desire for a luxury romantic gift. The urge to continually check a
man's commitment (or whether or not she is being loved by a man) will be
activated by any cues. In this study, when women expose to their same-sex friends
got a romantic gift from their romantic partners that trigger women’s desire for
conspicuous luxury goods. By asking for a luxury romantic gift, it will help
women to avoid being deserted by a romantic partner and poached by potential
rivals.
Using gifts to express love in a romantic relationship is well documented.
Shaver and Hazan (1988) stated that in a romantic relationship, partners have a
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strong desire to give gifts to express their feelings to their loved ones.
Interpretative evidence regarding the love-express effect of gifts is provided by
one of Belk and Coon’s (1991) informants: “Gifts are used as an expression for
they carry meaning. It is easier for me to express love through gifts that it is to do
it verbally”. Mick and DeMoss (1990) stated that the most common function of
gift giving is an interpersonal act of symbolic communication, with explicit and
implicit meanings of love. This gift may act as a symbol of commitment to the
romantic partner. A man who gives gifts to a woman is considered as a willingness
to spend and invest resources in the relationship. Thus, if a woman possesses an
expensive luxury item as a gift from her romantic partner, she is perceived by her
same-sex friend as being loved by her partner. Formally:
H1: Women’s possession of luxury romantic gifts will affect other women’s
perception of “being loved".
Men and women are different because they have evolved different
psychological mechanisms to survive and to reproduce. For men, they are less
investing sex. Therefore, they can advance their reproductive success by
inseminating as many opposite-sex mates as possible, whereas women can
increase their fitness outcome by choosing and retaining men with resources.
Hence, women will compete with both men and other women to maintain desired
men. While selecting mates, women have evolved mate preferences for men with
resources. However, men with resources do not mean they will invest their
resources in a relationship for a long time. Thus, women almost often check the
level of commitment from men. This psychological state will be activated by any
cues (in this study, the signal is when her same-sex friend got a luxury romantic
gift), and consequently, she is more likely to acquire luxury goods from her
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