Why Women Love to Shop

Men hate the mall, says research, because they're hunters, not gatherers.

ByABC News
December 1, 2009, 1:53 PM

Dec. 9, 2009— -- You see it in every shopping mall: men sitting outside the clothing store waiting for the wife to come out. Why is it that women love to try on every pair of shoes before deciding whether to buy anything at all, and men want to get out of the mall seconds after they get in?

It's all in the genes, according to Daniel Kruger, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Michigan. Kruger argues that it's natural for women to love to shop and men to hate it because of our evolutionary past.

Men were the hunters in our ancestral cultures, so when they find a satisfactory specimen, whether it's an elk or a pair of shoes, they want to shoot it and get out before it gets away.

Women, by contrast, were the primary gatherers in early hunter-gatherer cultures, so they feel a need to check every berry on the bush to make sure they're getting the best deal.

That's why, during this holiday season, you're likely to see a lot of men cooling their heels, and a lot of women shopping until they drop. It's mandated (or should we say human-dated) by the evolutionary progress that guided us out of the woods and into the mall.

Kruger, who normally studies gender differences in such things as relationships and roles, is the lead author of a research paper, "Evolved Foraging Psychology Underlies Sex Differences in Shopping Experiences and Behaviors," in the December issue of the Journal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology. The idea behind the research began during a trip across central Europe with his wife and a few of their friends.

"We had been visiting quaint little villages in the middle of winter, when there weren't many tourists, and when we reached the tourist mecca of Prague, the guys wanted to go and see all the historical sites and the girls wanted to go shopping," Kruger said in a telephone interview. "We (the guys) couldn't imagine why they would want to do that."

There ensued a "heated discussion," he recalled, after which the guys checked out the cultural attractions and the girls went shopping.