Think of the mall during the holidays. The music of the season fills the troglodyte with joy as he blazes a trail to Radio Shack. There, he offers a cashier a buckskin in exchange for an iPod. In another store, his mate is checking price tags. It may take her three or four visits before she's ready to make a trade for her raccoon tail.

According to researchers at Brunel University in West London, England, when it comes to shopping, we still revert to traditional evolutionary roles developed in the African savannah following the Ice Age. The males are the hunters, their female counterparts the gatherers.

Those who developed the study maintain that women like searching and finding the best values. Men, on the other hand, are in it for the thrill of the kill. The research was collected from 14 countries, but while shopping styles may vary between cultures, the study said, differences between males and females are reasonably consistent in reflecting the hunter-gatherer scenario.

"Men's emotional response to shopping comes at the 'kill' — the moment of purchase, when their heart rate actually quickens," said Brunel's Charles Dennis, who along with Tamira King released the findings in 2005.

What's that? Chuckling? Think about it. If you (or your man) are anything like my husband, Chris, you know about shopping habits that absolutely resemble a caveman's. Chris waits until the herd is ripe for harvest (generally Christmas Eve), knows his weapon of choice (a credit card), and goes out to beat the other aboriginals to the slaughter.

I spend weeks shopping. He gets it done in three hours — on the day before the meal is to be devoured. Ack!

Men often do research before they get to the store, especially with the help of the Internet. In a survey done last year by ShopSmartmag.org, 52 percent of the men said they research before making a purchase.

But the likely difference between Mr. and Mrs. Caveman is that he's in and out of Bedrock Mall in record-breaking time.

"Men ... see shopping as a mission, going straight for what they want in a purposeful way. The focus is on speed," Dennis said in a news release.

That's confirmed by Kathy Gill of Canal Fulton, who said her late father, Bill Hill, used to engage in "one-stop shopping" for his wife.

"He would go to a woman's store in Canton (Ohio) and buy everything for my mom," she joked while browsing Green's Gallery 143 in Akron, Ohio.

Many stores have special shopping events during the holidays for men. Gallery 143, for instance, encourages women to fill out a wish list and leave the paper on file in the store, making it even easier for him to shop. The store also hosted a "Men's Only Shopping Night" on Wednesday, even supplying free wings and pizza to attract the guys.

But what happens if the gatherer feels she needs to take the hunter with her on her holiday shopping trips? Perhaps these tips will help:

—Find a spot where he can take a load off his feet. Apparently the folks at Westfield Belden Village know that's important, because there are 36 places to sit between the main entrance and the short hall leading to the middle of the mall. Part of the seating is at the Caribou Coffee, so the men can enjoy a hot drink while you shop. And perhaps they really just want to be alone while the gals go gathering.

—If you feel it's necessary to take your guy into a store, avoid places that will make him smell like he's been spritzed with every scent known to — well, man. Instead, he might be happier in places like Sears or the seasonal kiosk of games, puzzles and slingshots that can shoot an eye out.

—Give him a list and send him on a hunt. Make certain to include the size, style and color. Items like Ugg boots for your teenage daughter may take a little more explaining.

—Feed him (see first tip).

—Offer to buy gasoline for his modern-day Flintmobile.

—Resist showing disappointment if he doesn't "ooh" or "ahh" when you've found the perfect gift.

—When possible, leave the children at home. Caveman's nerves may not be able to take both shopping and the kids.

Merry Christmas — and happy hunting, or gathering.