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If you work it, flaunt it

Conspicuous displays of exercise efforts increase mate value

by Jolien Vandenbroele, Anneleen Van Kerckhove, Maggie Geuens


Why do people love to share their running routes on social media? From an evolutionary perspective, the conspicuous display of exercise efforts provides an indicator of health. These displays benefit the sender, given that health establishes a human mate preference. Hence, potential mates attribute higher mate value to individuals posting about workouts because of greater inferred healthiness. In line with this theorizing, activating a mating motive increases online sharing intentions for workouts (vs. activities that require less energy) when people sense their own mate value to be low. Moreover, a mating motive increases senders' desire to ensure workout posts are noticed by attractive potential partners. Along with some boundary conditions of the costly signal, this article details the implications of these findings for theory, public policy, and online community marketers.


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