Changes in preference for male faces during the menstrual cycle in a Spanish population
AbstractA recent and controversial hypothesis suggests the presence of an oestrus phase in women as in other mammals. This implies that women at their optimal fertility point of the menstrual cycle exhibit behaviors focused to maximize the genetic quality of their offspring. Several studies support this hypothesis, finding that women in the fertile phase tend to prefer men with traits associated to phenotypic quality, such as greater facial masculinization and symmetry. We experimentally tested some of the observations supporting this hypothesis in a population of 810 young Spanish women. We analyzed whether the preference for masculinized male faces is affected by i) the phase of the menstrual cycle, ii) having a stable partner and iii) the use of birth control pills. We could not reproduce the effect of the first two factors, but we found that women using hormonal contraceptives tend to prefer men with less masculine faces. These results indicate that some of the evidences supporting the oestrus hypothesis in humans must be reviewed, incorporating data from different socio-cultural and ethnic populations.
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