J Stern, T L Kordsmeyer, and L Penke (2021)

A longitudinal evaluation of ovulatory cycle shifts in women's mate attraction and preferences

Hormones and Behavior, 128:104916.

Are ovulatory cycle shifts in women’s mate attraction and preferences robust? What are underlying mechanisms of potential cycle shifts? These questions are the subject of a current scientific debate surrounding the good genes ovulatory shift hypothesis. Here, we report a large, preregistered, within-subjects study, including salivary hormone measures and conception risk estimates based on luteinizing hormone tests. In four sessions across one ovulatory cycle, N = 257 women (= 1028 sessions) rated the attractiveness of 40 natural male bodies, 40 natural female bodies and 40 objects. Multilevel analyses yielded weak evidence for ovulatory increases in women’s general attraction, specifically to male bodies, though they are not systematically related to changes in steroid hormone levels. Further, we found no compelling robust evidence for mate preference shifts across the cycle, as only one out of many different tests showed some weak evidence for such effects. Mechanisms regulating cycle shifts, the impact of our results on developing and revising cycle shift theories, and influences of different methodologies on results are discussed.

open data, preregistration, replication, open analysis code, open material
The preregistration is available at https://osf.io/29n5j. Open material, open data, and open analysis script are available at https://osf.io/4jcuf.