Men who buy flashy sports cars might be more successful at getting a date, but women do not see them as good marriage material, a study suggests.
Researchers from Texas and Minnesota carried out tests on nearly 1,000 people to find out the signals sent out by spending behaviour.
Although men used spending on luxury items as a short-term mating signal, women did not spend to attract men.
The study appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The US researchers discovered that women found a man who chose to buy a flashy, expensive product - like a Porsche car - more desirable than the same man who bought a non-luxury item, like a Honda Civic.
However, women are aware of a man's intentions in acting this way, the study says, because women found the man with the Porsche less desirable as a marriage partner than as a date.
Daniel Beal, co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Rice University, said the sports car started to lose its sheen.
"When women considered him for a long-term relationship, owning the sports car held no advantage relative to owning an economy car.
"People may feel that owning flashy things makes them more attractive as a relationship partner but, in truth, many men might be sending women the wrong message."
According to the study, men who flaunt expensive, showy items like Porsches to woo potential sexual partners are like peacocks who display their tail feathers before potential mates.
But they said that not all men favoured this strategy - only those men who were interested in short-term sexual relationships with women.
Women, in contrast, did not spend excessively to attract men.
Jill Sundie, lead author of the study and assistant professor of marketing at University of Texas at San Antonio, said: "Obviously women also spend plenty of money on expensive things. But the anticipation of romance doesn't trigger flashy spending as it does with men."