Economic and consumer behavior

Kruger, D.J., & Byker, D. (2009). Evolved foraging psychology underlies sex differences in shopping experiences and behaviors. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, & Cultural Psychology, 3, 328-342.

This study documents that men and women experience and perform consumer shopping differently, and in ways consistent with adaptations to the sexually dimorphic foraging strategies utilized during recent human evolution. There is an abundant literature on sex differences in spatial abilities and object location that follow from the specific navigational strategies associated with hunting and gathering in the ancestral environment. In addition to sex differences in navigational strategies, the unique features of hunting and gathering may have influenced other aspects of foraging psychology that underlie sex differences in modern male and female shopping experiences and behaviors. Scales were developed to assess several aspects of shopping psychology that may be based on sexually differentiated ancestral adaptations. Results generally confirmed the predicted directions of sex differences. Compared to men, women relied more on object oriented navigation strategies and scored higher on skills and behaviors associated with gathering, the degree to which shopping is seen as recreational, the degree to which shopping is a social activity, and the tendency to see new locations as opportunities for shopping. Men scored higher on skills and behaviors thought to be associated with hunting. Most effect sizes were moderate or strong. These results suggest that shopping experiences and behaviors are influenced by sexually divergent adaptations for gathering and hunting.


Kruger, D.J. (2008). Male financial consumption is associated with higher mating intentions and mating success. Evolutionary Psychology, 6, 603-612.

Cross-culturally, male economic power is directly related to reproductive success. Displays of wealth and social status are an important part of human male mating effort. The degree of male financial consumption may be related to variance in life history strategies, as differences in life history patterns are fundamentally differences in the allocation of effort and/or resources. Males who have higher mating intentions may maximize their economic displays, saving little and even spending beyond their capacity through the use of credit. These men may seek and possibly obtain a greater number of sexual partners. This hypothesis was tested in a randomly selected community sample of men aged 18-45 included in a telephone health interview. The degree of financial consumption was directly related to future mating intentions and past mating success, even when accounting for age, years of education completed, and marital status. The degree of financial consumption was not related to future mating intentions or past mating success for women in the same sample.


Kruger, D.J. (2008). Young adults attempt exchanges in reproductively relevant currencies. Evolutionary Psychology, 6, 204-212.

Adults in many species exhibit exchanges in reproductively relevant currencies, where males trade resources for sexual relations with females, and females have sex with males in exchange for provisioning. These exchanges can occur outside of a long-term partnership, which itself could be considered a commitment to the accessibility of reproductive currencies provided by each partner. The current study investigated whether young adults who are not in acute need of resources intentionally attempt reproductive currency exchanges outside of dating relationships or formal committed relationships such as marriage; and whether young adults have awareness of being the target of such attempts made by others. College students (N = 475) completed a brief survey assessing their own attempts to exchange reproductively relevant currencies, as well as others' attempts to make these exchanges with them. Men were more likely to report making attempts to trade investment for sex and women were more likely to report attempted trades of sex for investment. Participants' experiences of exchange attempts initiated by other individuals mirrored these patterns. Men were more likely to report another individual trying to trade sex for their investment, and women were more likely to report another individual trying to trade investment for sex with them. The vast majority of these attempted exchanges took place outside of existing relationships, although a small portion did lead to short or long-term relationships.