The Financial Perils of Touching Underwear

Humble underwear may be more dangerous than you’d think; men and women are willing to pay more for stuff after handling it, and women take more risky gambles to boot.

In what is perhaps the most creative study of the year, researchers in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that handling men’s boxers encouraged reward seeking behaviour in women, and handling underwear encouraged both men and women to spend more money in general. In one test, female subjects, who were under the impression that they were participating in customer research, played some basic casino games for prizes of money and chocolate. Those who handled men’s boxers beforehand took riskier bets than those who handled a t-shirt.

In another test, straight men and women had to say how much they’d pay for rewarding items (e.g., a bottle of wine) and neutral items (e.g., a bundle of cable). Men who handled a bra beforehand were willing to spend more money than men who handled a t-shirt. Women who handled boxers were willing to spend more on the rewarding item—but not the neutral one.

So, what to do with this weird bit of data? Well, if the Bay starts putting bras next to the big screen TVs, and boxers next to the in-store LCBO (editor’s note: not a real thing, Merv), you’ll know why.

This is a test