Because of a single testosterone dose, men are drawn to high-end brands, wielding them as “status” attracting the female gender, a new study finds.

In the research published in the journal Nature Communications, the primary male sex hormone emerged as a major influence when it comes to male consumer behavior. It’s likely that testosterone acts in behaviors relating to social rank in the animal kingdom.

“[O]wning status products is a strategy to signal one’s rank within human social hierarchies,” said study author Gideon Nave from the University of Pennsylvania in an AFP report.

The Study

While previous studies already established that human beings use material goods to demonstrate social status, hormones’ role in the behavior was mostly unknown. In the animal kingdom, though, testosterone has always been known to promote aggression. 

"[H]ere we're replacing physical aggression with a sort of 'consumer' aggression," said study author and California Institute of Technology professor Colin Camerer in a statement. 

In the new study, the team analyzed 243 males aged 18 to 55. While some were provided a dose of testosterone via gel form applied topically, others received a placebo.

The subjects were then asked to choose from two products, similar in quality yet one boasted a trademark representing luxury status. The judgment was predetermined in an earlier survey of more than 600 males.

The team discovered that males who received testosterone exhibited an increased preference for high-status brands. Nave explained that the effect wasn’t a far cry from other animals’ behavior, where the hormone usually increased during the breeding season and promoted showing off traits that make them fit for mating.

According to the authors of the study, the products linked to status would be different from one culture to another. The findings, too, don’t answer whether women truly prefer men who drive a luxurious sports car or wear an Audemars Piguet timepiece.

Using these brands may not necessarily have to work. Nave added that the point is that men think it works.

Interestingly, a separate study found that men who owned flashy cars were viewed by women as more sexually promiscuous than those who chose more practical cars.

The Testosterone Factor

Another study found that while a lab test typically checks for testosterone levels, childhood environments might better indicate a man’s hormone level.

Published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the researchers saw that men’s testosterone levels depend on where they lived. Young boys who lived in more challenging, disease-ridden environments have lower testosterone levels in adulthood.

In another research, which probed the role of hormones, the primary female sex hormone estrogen was seen to play a role in the occurrence of migraines in men. Men with higher estrogen levels, for one, were more likely to experience a migraine contrary to those with lower levels.

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