Monday, March 30, 2009

The Egg Made Me Do It!

Am I imagining things or is the British society sexist in an especially nasty way? Here's something I read today about a study concerning the shopping habits of women, those poor emotional creatures:

Women may be able to blame impulse buys and extravagant shopping on their time of the month, research suggests.

In the 10 days before their periods began women were more likely to go on a spending spree, a study found.

Psychologists believe shopping could be a way for premenstrual women to deal with the negative emotions created by their hormonal changes.

Professor Karen Pine will present her work to a British Psychological Society meeting in Brighton later this week.


She said much of this could be explained by hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. And the findings were exaggerated in the women with severe PMT.

"We are getting surges and fluctuations in hormones which affect the part of the brain linked to emotions and inhibitory control. So the behaviour we found is not surprising."

Another explanation might be that women are buying items to make themselves feel more attractive - coinciding with the time of ovulation when they are most fertile, typically around 14 days before the start of a period.

Most of the purchases made by the women were for adornment, including jewellery, make-up and high heels.

Professor Pine said: "Other researchers have found there is an ornamental effect around the time of ovulation."

Did you get it? EITHER women shop carelessly during the last ten days of their menstrual cycles OR they shop carelessly around the time of ovulation which is in the middle of the cycle. Perhaps it would be better to just argue that women shop carelessly? Of course we don't know if men do this, too, because we don't study that aspect of men's hormones.

Professor Pine is one of the authors of a book on women and finance, called Sheconomics. Here's what that book is all about:

Pensions. Equity. Compound interest. Yawn. Yes, financial stuff is all a bit tedious but since there will be no escaping it this year we may as well start getting our heads around it. Ah, but that's just the problem, see. One half of the population apparently finds that easier to do than the other. Women frequently have a mental "off" switch when it comes to financial jargon. They tend to be more frightened of and embarrassed by money, making them less likely to ask for a pay rise. Sometimes they are positively babyish, happily letting men take charge. Their attitude to spending is much more emotionally driven than men's, which is why so many females shop to cheer themselves up. Theirs is a world of illogical priorities where they will happily spend hundreds of pounds on a dress that they will wear once, yet won't buy a small pension.

This is according to Sheconomics, a new book written by Karen Pine, a psychologist, and Simonne Gnessen, a financial coach. If it all sounds a bit patronising or sexist - and, frankly, parts of the book do - the authors, both women, say they know that there are many women who are brilliant with money. But they are acknowledging what research and years of experience bears out: that in general women struggle more to plan for their economic futures than men and and the very language of the financial world tends to alienate them.

Bolds are mine. It's a wonder that two women managed to get a book together, what with all those emotions. It's also a wonder that girls outperform boys at school in the U.K., for example. That would seem to be an utter impossibility in the world Professor Pine inhabits (where the sky is pink and the clouds always cute and fluffy and no man ever feels any emotions about money).