If you were to go back to an age when we all lived in caves, and wore skins or nothing, owning a precious object or stone was considered a status symbol. We know this because in many ancient burial mounds we see the grave adorned with the precious objects which we assume the deceased owned.
In more recent years we see equally ostentatious displays of wealth throughout society. Whether it is a watch, a ring, a car or a suit, the outward display of wealth is something we humans seem to have an unusual talent for. It’s not just us, though. Magpies and crows are often drawn to shiny objects, and sometimes line their nests with them for apparently inexplicable reasons. There is probably something to be said for the fact that this is an attempt to attract a mate.
The advertising maxim that boldly says that ‘sex sells’ is interesting in this context. When selling a sports car it used to be thought that if we stick a poorly clothed blonde on the bonnet of the car surprisingly it had men reaching into their pockets (supposedly for their check books). The blonde eases the path of the sale. This now dated idea was probably true in the 1960’s. The brain said, car, blonde, sex and finally how much. All were lumped together.
Of course, now things are different. First and foremost the car is equally likely to be sold to a woman. With the success of many women in the senior elevations of the workplace, it may be more likely to be sold to a woman. Secondly, such ostentatious displays of outright wealth are becoming less socially acceptable. Thirdly, with the advent of better access to information, the blonde is less important. A buyer is less likely to be swayed by irrelevant information. Sometimes the relatively understated Mazda really is more powerful, better designed, better at holding the road, more environmentally friendly and most of all has a lower rate of depreciation than the Camaro, or the Porsche. It may also have room for a baby seat.
Nowadays the advertisement with the blonde and the car is a little harder to sell. There will always be some that are susceptible to it, though most wonder 'Nice car, but what is the car company saying about that woman?' or, 'What did she have to do to get the car?' Neither message is going to do much for the car company.
For the individual who still thinks cars attract sexual partners, they may have a point. The problem is they attract the wrong sexual partners.
With the advent of better information we are moving toward a different society. Social selection, where shared values are driving forces, is more influential now than ever before. Making smart choices and lifestyle decisions is more likely to attract the mate than having a shiny object.