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Horm Behav. 2006 Apr;49(4):509-18. Epub 2006 Jan 3.

Conditional expression of women's desires and men's mate guarding across the ovulatory cycle.

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  • 1Communication Studies and Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture, 3130 Hershey Hall, 415 Portola, 90095, USA.


Thirty-eight normally cycling women provided daily reports of sexual interests and feelings for 35 days. Near ovulation, both pair-bonded and single women reported feeling more physically attractive and having greater interest in attending social gatherings where they might meet men. Pair-bonded women who were near ovulation reported greater extra-pair flirtation and greater mate guarding by their primary partner. As predicted, however, these effects were exhibited primarily by women who perceived their partners to be low on hypothesized good genes indicators (low in sexual attractiveness relative to investment attractiveness). Ovulation-contingent increases in partner mate guarding were also moderated by female physical attractiveness; midcycle increases in mate guarding were experienced primarily by less attractive women, whereas more attractive women experienced relatively high levels of mate guarding throughout their cycle. These findings demonstrate ovulation-contingent shifts in desires and behaviors that are sensitive to varying fitness payoffs, and they provide support for the good genes hypothesis of human female extra-pair mating. The daily assessment method provides an important supplement to existing studies using scheduled laboratory visits as the purpose of the study (examining cycle-related variation) is not known by participants.

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