Women's Preferences for Male Behavioral Displays Change Across the Menstrual Cycle

Steven W. Gangestad, Jeffry A. Simpson, Alita J. Cousins, Christine E. Garver-Apgar, P. Niels Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

271 Scopus citations


Women prefer both the scent of symmetrical men and masculine male faces more during the fertile (late follicular and ovulatory) phases of their menstrual cycles than during their infertile (e.g., luteal) phases. Men's behavioral displays in social settings may convey signals that affect women's attraction to men even more strongly. This study examined shifts in women's preferences for these behavioral displays. A sample of 237 normally ovulating women viewed 36 or 40 videotaped men who were competing for a potential lunch date and then rated each man's attractiveness as a short-term and a long-term mate. As predicted, women's preference for men who displayed social presence and direct intrasexual competitiveness increased on high-fertility days relative to low-fertility days, but only in a short-term, not a long-term, mating context. These findings add to the growing literature indicating that women's mate preferences systematically vary across the reproductive cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-207
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004


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