Men who buy "flashy" sports cars such as Porsches are driven by a desire to attract women for short-term sexual relationships, researchers say.
Men's approach to "showy" spending has the same intention as a peacock's feathers, trying to make themselves more desirable to members of the opposite sex, the US study suggested.
The findings of the survey, which questioned nearly 1,000 men and women on their attitudes to big spending, are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Women were more likely to want to date a man with a sports car rather than someone who drives a duller option such as a Honda Civic.
However, they were not fooled by the signals being sent out by men who splash the cash, knowing that this meant the male was after commitment-free sex, and would not choose them as a long-term partner, the study found.
Dr Jill Sundie, from the University of Texas-San Antonio, said: "This research suggests that conspicuous products, such as Porsches, can serve the same function for some men that large and brilliant feathers serve for peacocks."
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