Evolutionary mating strategies and the consumption of clothing

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Two studies examined possible influences of evolutionary mating strategies on consumption behavior in the context of sex ratio. Study 1 used archival population data from the United States and the United Kingdom to calculate the sex ratio for the mean age of first marriage. The sex ratio was then compared with pictures representing clothing from that time. During time periods of low sex ratio (more women than men) women dressed in a more distinctive manner than men. Conversely, during time periods of high sex ratio (more men than women) the men dressed distinctively on only a few components, such as color of clothing and ornamentation of clothing. Study 2 triangulated on the findings of study 1 by using pictures from the United States from six different time periods. Q-sort and survey methodologies were both used to discern clothing distinctiveness of the men's and women's clothing. Again, the women's clothing was more distinctive during times of low sex ratio, but the results for the men's clothing during times of high sex ratio were mixed. These results suggest that while women more than men may use clothing as a means of intrasexual competition, men may use other tactics, such as displaying their wealth through expensive houses or cars, as a means of intrasexual competition. These studies have important implications in terms of fashion marketers, who may facilitate sales by assessing the mating desires of their customers. Future research should involve a closer examination of the disparity of distinctiveness between the men's and women's fashions.


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