Men, do you have trouble sticking to diets and budgets? Belgian researcher Bram Van Den Bergh may have identified the culprit: The Bikini Effect.
In the study, detailed in the Journal of Consumer Research, men alternately fondled t-shirts and bras (which were not being worn during the test). After touching the bras, men valued the future less and the present more, said lead researcher Bram Van Den Bergh of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. Viewing ads with women in bikinis had the same effect. [...]
Evolutionarily speaking, Briers hypothesized, unfulfilled sexual arousal could trigger a subconscious belief that one's reproductive status is at stake. Rendered fearful, men reach out for other "resources" — a quick payoff, fast food — to better their chances for survival. In modern, more splurge-friendly times, this may be a maladaptive tendency.
The bikini effect does vary in strength from person to person, Van Den Bergh said. While most men are vulnerable to subtle types of stimuli — like sexy ads and touching lingerie — others may need to see a woman nude before feeling impulsive. No matter, Van Den Bergh warned, "being exposed to a sexy girl may influence what stock you invest in or what candy bar you buy."