Dark Consumption


Researcher(s): Eveline Vincke

Promotors: Patrick Vyncke
Duration: October 2010 to September 2017


Individuals engage in different forms of ‘dark consumption’ behavior that carry negative consequences, including smoking cigarettes and drinking high amounts of alcohol. Accordingly, many intervention campaigns have attempted to reduce these harmful behaviors by emphasizing the dangers and risks. However, despite these efforts, smoking behavior and heavy episodic drinking (i.e. binge drinking) peak during young adulthood. As these findings suggest that young adult smoking and drinking behavior is not always due to a lack of awareness about the risks of the behaviors,  this dissertation wanted to investigate if there is a deep, ultimate rationality behind these dark consumption behaviors, using an evolutionary psychological perspective. In six empirical chapters, this dissertation explored the signaling function of smoking and (especially) heavy drinking. Results indicated that that both behaviors operate as a short-term sexual signaling system among young adults.