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Sexual selection of conspicuous consumption

Vaios Koliofotis ()
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Vaios Koliofotis: Erasmus University Rotterdam

Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 2022, vol. 32, issue 2, No 6, 552 pages

Abstract: Abstract Recently, a number of papers draw upon ideas from sexual selection and costly signaling theory to argue that conspicuous consumption has evolved as a sexually selected mating strategy. I outline what are considered to be the criteria for arguing that a trait is the outcome of sexual selection and I explore whether conspicuous consumption is sexual adaptation. Though I share the insight that evolutionary theory can contribute to our understanding of consumption behavior, I argue that existing evolutionary explanations of conspicuous consumption do not examine human evolved psychology and available evidence about past environments. I further argue that cultural evolution theory provides an alternative explanation of conspicuous consumption in modern environments. In particular, conspicuous consumption is understood as a pattern of behavior marked by specific social learning mechanisms. Such an approach reflects the analytical tools of cultural evolution theory and provides a classification of cognitive factors involved in consumption choices.

Keywords: Conspicuous consumption; consumer learning, Sexual selection, Costly signaling (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A12 B15 B52 D01 D11 O12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s00191-021-00753-4

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