Men are not aware of and do not respond to their female partner’s fertility status: evidence from a dyadic diary study of 384 couples

Lara Schleifenbaum*, Julia Stern, Julie C. Driebe, Larissa L. Wieczorek, Tanja M. Gerlach, Ruben C. Arslan, Lars Penke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Understanding how human mating psychology is affected by changes in female cyclic fertility is informative for comprehending the evolution of human reproductive behavior. Based on differential selection pressures between the sexes, men are assumed to have evolved adaptations to notice women's within-cycle cues to fertility and show corresponding mate retention tactics to secure access to their female partners when fertile. However, previous studies suffered from methodological shortcomings and yielded inconsistent results. In a large, preregistered online dyadic diary study (384 heterosexual couples), we found no compelling evidence that men notice women's fertility status (as potentially reflected in women's attractiveness, sexual desire, or wish for contact with others) or display mid-cycle increases in mate retention tactics (jealousy, attention, wish for contact or sexual desire towards female partners). These results extend our current understanding of the evolution of women's concealed ovulation and oestrus, and suggest that both might have evolved independently.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105202
JournalHormones and Behavior
Volume143
Early online date02 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • Mate retention
  • Hormonal contraception
  • Dyadic diary
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Romantic couples
  • Cues to fertility

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