April 28, 2008

Why guys buy sport cars

While I was writing my previous post, I found a Gazelle picture, but I had to look for an Antelope instead… and while doing it, I discovered that, sooner or later, I HAVE TO VISIT ANTELOPE CANYON IN ARIZONA, USA! :-)

Enjoy this pic of Antelope Canyon, before reading the post!

antelope canyon, Arizona, USA

**Cars are a big passion for italians, and for “first world” guys in general (poors cannot afford cars), since they’re kids. I, for example, have a huge passion for Lotuses, and the recent [Lotus Elise**](http://flickr.com/photos/fleur-design/527316468/) drives me quite crazy!

Only very recently, though, I really understood WHY GUYS BUY SPORT CARS, or expensive cars in general. Bear with me.

Amotz Zahavi, a now retired jewish professor and biologist, is quite famous for his (hypothesis of the) Handicap Principle, proposed in 1975. I’ll explain it with an example (antelopes and gazelles are interchangeable here).

An antelope, name is John, sees a Lion, rapidly approaching to eat him: he decides to jump two or three times in the air before starting to run (it is called stotting). The lion understands that John has very good fitness, and decides to save energy for a slower antelope. Another antelope, name is Fred, sees a Lion, rapidly approaching to eat him: he jump a couple of times, like John, but the Lion decides to pursue him anyway. Fred is not well fit, and the lion catches him, and then eats him. Fred, therefore, can’t reproduce, and that’s why “cheaters” like Fred quite doesn’t exist in nature, because their behavior would be too fatal.

This brings an interesting concept, summarized in the Handicap Principle: well fit individuals can “stot” to show predators their “braveness” and energy, in an attempt to avoid an energy-consuming chase (for both).

Remember this sentence: animals stot to show they’re superior to other peers (dear lion, chase someone else). Remember the second sentence: animals are not likely to cheat, because in many cases, cheating means a very low chance of survival.

Remove the “… means a very low chance of survival”, substitute antelopes with humans, and you have… Tah-Dah: the reason WHY GUYS BUY SPORT CARS.

So, why? They’re simply stotting to chicks. They’re trying to say: “I can afford a sport car (not only expensive to buy, but expensive to mantain), so it means that I have money to waste; I can therefore take care of you and our future babies”. Bingo. Bed. :-)

This can extend, in general, to luxury items. They’re all stots (this word doesn’t quite exist… yet!), performed by humans. Of course, luxuries and sport cars are also a way to show other male peers that “we’re cool”, “we’re good”. But that’s another story.

Potlatch can be a variation on the theme, another way to show people that “you can afford that”. Aposematism (and Unkenreflex) are somewhat related to the Handicap Principle.

Well, next time you see an antelope like this one below, think about it.

antelope [image source]

You may also enjoy reading this article on Discover Magazine about Zahavi.

What do you think? **Agree? ** Disagree?

Digg this story here!