A big wad of cash can certainly upgrade your old station wagon to a brand new Benz. But it could also tempt you to upgrade your partner for a shinier model, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology.
Money’s powerful, that’s nothing new. But researchers have found that even perceived wealth—how rich you feel in comparison to others—can influence your romantic pursuits.
In the study, researchers performed two tests on a group of college-aged, heterosexual Chinese couples in committed long-term relationships. Participants were made to believe they were wealthy or poor, then researchers analyzed their how they behaved toward their partner.
When men were under the impression they were rich, they became discontent with their current girlfriend’s physical attractiveness and more interested in short-term flings compared with men who believed they were money-deprived. But for the ladies? Their perception didn’t change when they had perceived wealth.
When all of the participants believed they were wealthy, they were able to better socialize with an attractive member of the opposite sex, opposed to those who lacked sufficient funds. What’s more, the researchers found men from both wealthy and poor conditions were more inclined to surround themselves with good-looking people, choosing to sit near attractive individuals, than woman were.
“We remarked that wealthy men attach more importance to a mate’s physical attractiveness setting higher standards and preferring to engage in short-term mating than those who have less money,” study author Darius Chan explained in a press release. “However, for committed women, money may lead to less variation in their mating strategies because losing a long-term relationship generally has a higher reproductive cost.”
Now, we’re not saying you shouldn’t work hard for your money, but don’t let your ability to burn bills turn you into a jerk. Or, try focusing less on money overall; this study found that those who value their time are generally happier than those who focus on money.