Many ads include beautiful, scantily-clothed models staring lusciously into the camera. And not without a reason. New research suggests that consumers with sex on the brain are more impatient and thus more inclined to spend money more quickly.
The psychological mechanism seem to work as follows: the presence of sexual cues evokes arousal and arousal affects our perception of time in a way that we overestimate elapsed time. This overestimation makes us impatient and this may influence monetary decisions.
“Sexual cues induce impatience through their ability to lengthen the perceived temporal distance to delayed rewards. That is, sexual cues make the temporal delay seem subjectively longer, resulting in greater impatience for monetary rewards,” the authors write in the paper.
The study shows that participants who were exposed to sexually charged imagery were less interested in future rewards than rewards with more immediate promotions. The researchers point out that this finding could be manipulated by marketers who use sexual imagery to sell products, by making sure promotions are offered in a more immediate time frame.
Kim BK, & Zauberman G (2012). Can Victoria’s Secret Change the Future? A Subjective Time Perception Account of Sexual-Cue Effects on Impatience. Journal of experimental psychology. General PMID: 22686639