Gendered products act as the extended phenotype of human sexual dimorphism: They increase physical attractiveness and desirability


Gendered marketing is a pervasive trend, despite the public controversies it generates. Most of research so far has focused on the socialization-based perspectives of gendered marketing to explain this phenomenon. In this research, we ask the following instrumental question; which benefits can men and women derive from owning gender-typical variants of consumer goods? We propose that gender-typical products can act as the extended phenotype of human sexual dimorphism, broadcasting a cultural equivalent to the signals issued by biological, secondary sexual characteristics. Based on evidence showing that secondary sexual characteristics increase attractiveness and desirability, we predict that gender-typical products increase the attractiveness and desirability of their owners by acting as supernormal stimuli of sexual dimorphism. An internal meta-analysis across three studies confirms that consumers who own gender-typical products are mentally pictured as more physically attractive. We also find that owners of gender-typical products can be perceived as sexier, and more desirable partners.

Journal of Business Research
JF Bonnefon
JF Bonnefon
Behavioral Scientist