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Women do not Prefer Different Mates during Fertility

Update Date: May 14, 2014 03:57 PM EDT

Based on several studies examining reproductive biology and psychology, researchers have believed that when a woman is fertile and going through her menstrual cycle, her mate preferences tend to shift. These studies linked fertility to women's desires. According to a new study, however, researchers dispelled this belief and reported that during that time of the month, a woman's mate preferences remain unchanged.

For this study, the team headed by researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) conducted an analysis on over 58 experiments. The data had included a wide range of male factors, such as jaw size, cheekbone and brow ridges, facial hair, voice pitch, dominant behavior, leadership, symmetry ad sweat odor when studying masculinity. Some of the previously conducted experiments had examined women's mate preference when they were not fertile.

The researchers concluded that even though fertile women appeared to seek sex with men that were more masculine or fit during peak fertility, this desire was actually not higher than the desire felt on other days on their cycles. Women, regardless of fertility, were also more drawn to masculine men with dominant behaviors.

"A complete model of human reproduction needs to acknowledge women's impressive capacity to regulate their own behavior and not fall into the trap of biological determinism," said the study's lead investigator, Wendy Wood, USC Provost Professor of Psychology and Business, and vice dean for social sciences at USC Dornsife. "Regardless of what might have been normative in ancestral history, with the advent of cultural roles and complex group living, women showed the capacity to tailor their reproductive activities to a variety of social roles."

As a part of the study, the researchers had examined previously conducted ones and found that over time, the strength of the correlations between a woman's menstrual cycle and her mate preference had declined. The team reported that more recent studies that attempted to replicate previous ones did not find the same strong effect between fertility and mating preferences

"These effects have become accepted lore. Our failure to find consistent effects of women's hormonal cycling on mate preferences does not, of course, rule out such influences. Yet our review suggests these effects are subtle, if at all present," said Wood reported by Medical Xpress. "By relying on outmoded theories that emphasize biology to the exclusion of culture, evolutionary psychologists may be missing some of the most important, characteristically human processes-our remarkable ability to exert control over our own behavior."

The study was published in the journal, Emotion Review.

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