A study explores what retailers call the "lipstick effect"—that sales of beauty products rise in tough times—and looks at what causes it.
The authors looked at the relationship between monthly sales in five goods categories, from 1992 to 2011, and the unemployment rate: When unemployment rose, sales of clothes and cosmetics tended to rise, while those of furniture, electronics and hobby-related products tended to fall. (click below to read more)
Researchers also had 154 university students either read an article about the rocky economy or one about architecture, and then rate their desire to buy products that were either attractiveness-enhancing or not (e.g., a computer mouse, headphones). Men who read about the economy expressed less desire to buy any of the goods, but the women reminded about economics showed a greater desire for beauty-enhancing products.
In a third experiment involving only women, those who saw a photo slide show on the recession rated more highly the importance of finding a mate with sound finances.
"Boosting Beauty in an Economic Decline: Mating, Spending, and the Lipstick Effect," Sarah E. Hill, Christopher D. Rodeheffer, Vladas Griskevicius, Kristina Durante and Andrew Edward White, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (August)