Men's ability to detect cyclical changes in women's facial and bodily attractiveness / by Jennifer M. Patola.
Patola, Jennifer Marilyn
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Despite widespread beliefs to the contrary, recent evidence suggests that human ovulation is not completely hidden. There is some evidence that men may be able to detect physical changes across the menstrual cycle. Second-to-fourth digit ratio (2D:4D) is a sexually dimorphic trait, said to be fixed at birth. Recent research suggests that 2D:4D may change over the menstrual cycle (Patola et al., 2006). The current study involved photographing women (faces and bodies) at the periovulatory phase and one other phase of the menstrual cycle. Measures of 2D:4D were obtained via hand scans. Ninety-three men chose the more attractive face, body, or hands from each pair of photos. Four hypotheses were tested: (a) women will be perceived as most attractive during the periovulatory phase, (b) partners will evaluate periovulatory phase photos as attractive more often than nonpartners (c) 2D:4D will be highest in the luteal phase, and (d) luteal phase or high 2D:4D hand scans will be judged as most attractive. Results indicated that overall, men found faces most attractive on the day of ovulation ( p < .01). Makeup use affected results in that higher periovulatory preferences (FPs) were found in nonmakeup wearers, while men preferred the nonperiovulatory faces of makeup wearers. Sociosexual orientation (SO) of both men and women also affected PPs; unrestricted men showed a greater PP than restricted men, and all men showed a higher PP when evaluating restricted versus unrestricted women. Second-to-fourth digit ratio did not change over the cycle. Trends (p < .05) indicated that men preferred luteal phase and lower 2D:4D hand photos. These findings support the idea that men are most attracted to high estrogen faces (e.g.. Smith et al, 2006). However, the sociosexuality of both men and women plays an important mediating influence on cyclical preferences, potentially due to differing mating strategies.