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Romance, risk, and replication: Can consumer choices and risk-taking be primed by mating motives?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

David R Shanks, Miguel Angel Vadillo Nistal, Benjamin Riedel, Ahsley Clymo, Sinita Govind, Nisha Hickin, Amanda Tamman, Lara M. C. Puhlmann

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e142-e158
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Early online date26 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


King's Authors


Interventions aimed at influencing spending behavior and risk-taking have considerable practical importance. A number of studies motivated by the costly signaling theory within evolutionary psychology have reported that priming inductions (such as looking at pictures of attractive opposite sex members) designed to trigger mating motives increase males’ stated willingness to purchase conspicuous consumption items and to engage in risk-taking behaviors, and reduce loss aversion. However, a meta-analysis of this literature reveals strong evidence of either publication bias or p-hacking (or both). We then report 8 studies with a total sample of over 1,600 participants which sought to reproduce these effects. None of the studies, including one that was fully preregistered, was successful. The results question the claim that romantic primes can influence risk-taking and other potentially harmful behaviors.

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