Sexual Conflict and the Ovulatory Cycle

Benedict C. Jones, Lisa M. DeBruine, Anthony C. Little and David R. Feinberg

in The Oxford Handbook of Sexual Conflict in Humans

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195396706
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Sexual Conflict and the Ovulatory Cycle

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The optimal sexual strategies for men and women are strikingly different and frequently in direct conflict. This conflict may have driven the evolution of behaviors that counter the other sex’s optimal strategy. Because women’s sexual strategies vary according to their ovulatory status, it may be beneficial for men’s counterstrategies to also be sensitive to cues of women’s ovulatory status. This chapter reviews empirical evidence that women’s sexual behavior and preferences for masculine men change systematically during the menstrual cycle and that men possess adaptations that may have evolved to counter these cyclic shifts in women’s mate preferences. We also discuss the empirical evidence for cues of women’s ovulatory status that might act as triggers for these counterstrategies and the possibility that women might alter their behavior to minimize the effectiveness of such triggers. Collectively, these findings highlight the possibility that the conditional nature of women’s sexual strategies can drive equally complex counterstrategies in men.

Keywords: menstrual cycle; sexual dimorphism; faces; voices; attractiveness; trade-off

Article.  9750 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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