Susanne Röder, Gayle Brewer and Bernhard Fink

Menstrual cycle shifts in women’s self-perception and motivation: A daily report method

Personality and Individual Differences

Few systematic studies have examined differences in women’s behaviour across the entire menstrual cycle. Previous research indicates that women’s sexual motivation and mating behaviour increases near ovulation, as well as sexual desire and selection of provocative clothing. We investigated whether self-perception varies across the menstrual cycle, i.e., whether women consider themselves to be more attractive near ovulation. As a hypothesized by-product of increased desire and a reflection of short-term sexual strategy selection, we tested changes in clothing style, use of cosmetics, and purchasing behaviour across the menstrual cycle. We adopted the daily report method of estimated fertility (Haselton & Gangestad, 2006; Schwarz & Hassebrauck, 2008) over 35 days with 25 College age women who were not taking any kind of hormonal contraceptives. Women reported feeling more attractive and desirable, increased sexual interest and appearance related styling at the days near ovulation (i.e., when conception likelihood was high) than on the other days of the menstrual cycle. However, no significant differences between high and low fertile phases were found for purchasing behaviour. We discuss our results with reference to the evolutionary psychology of female fertility and mating related behaviour.