While you might think that men who flaunt their wealth would be seen as attractive partners, a new study suggests this may not be the case.

Researchers from the University of Michigan found that when a man flashes his cash, women see this as a sign that he’s more interested in a short-term sexual relationship than romantic commitment.

In the study, participants completed anonymous online surveys.

They read through descriptions of two men who were buying cars, and then rated each character on dating and parenting behaviours, his interest in relationships and his attractiveness to others.

While both men spent the same budget, one man made a frugal investment by buying a new car for the sake of reliability, and the other opted for a used car and spent the remaining money on flashy purchases such as new paint, larger wheels and a sound system.

Results showed that both male and female participants rated the man with the flashy car as being more interested in brief sexual relationships.

The flashy man was more attractive to women for brief sexual encounters, but did not tick the boxes for a long-term committed romantic partner for a relationship in which to raise families.

Daniel Kruger, who co-authored the study, said: “Participants demonstrated an intuitive understanding that men investing in the display of goods featuring exaggerated sensory properties have reproductive strategies with higher mating effort and greater interest in short-term sexual relationships, as well as lower paternal investment and interest in long-term committed romantic relationships than men investing in practical considerations.”

The study sheds light on how human psychology and behaviour applies to technologically advanced and wealthy societies, according to the researchers.

Jessica Kruger, co-author of the study, added: “This contrasts with the notion that men’s conspicuous resource displays are attractive to women because they reliably signal expected future resource investment in partners and especially in offspring.”

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