Women have Pavlovian response to touching boxers

A new study suggests women are more likely to seek immediate rewards and pay more for an item after touching "sexy" clothing.

Can touching a sexy item of clothing make women more likely to buy a product? New research suggests so.

Recently published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, Belgium’s University of Leuven doctoral student Anouk Festjens, assistant professor of marketing Sabrina Bruyneel and professor of marketing Siegfried Dewitte, studied women’s response to touching sexual stimuli under the hypothesis that touching something sexy can make women seek rewards.

In the paper “What a Feeling,” the researchers say previous studies have found that unlike men, women are “insensitive” to the presence of sexual cues. So while men might be more likely to seek reward (read: buy a product) after exposure to an image of lingerie, traditionally, women have not been.

However, the researchers posit that women are driven by touch, rather than visual stimuli, when it comes to sexually-laden cues.

To prove their theory, they had more than 100 women come in and touch sexy versus non-sexy items of clothing (boxers versus T-shirt), under the auspices of consumer product testing. Participants were then tested on their monetary spending (i.e. were they willing to spend more or lose more money immediately after touching the boxers versus the T-shirt).

After touching the “sexy” clothing items, women were more likely to seek immediate reward and were more likely to gamble away money on an item than those who hadn’t touched the boxers.

The final part of the research asked both men and women to rate bras and boxers after touching or seeing the item, and then measure both genders’ willingness to pay for rewards (specifically chocolate or wine) and other everyday objects (such as a DVD or keyboard). Women who touched boxers, the study found, were significantly more likely to pay more for reward items compared to women who only saw the sexual cues, while men saw significantly higher willingness to pay for both rewards and everyday objects after both seeing and touching the undergarments.

The study concludes women likely associate touching the boxers with an immediate reward (sex), creating a Pavlovian response in other situations.

In other words, sex still sells… women just need the hands-on experience.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.