Researchers from the University of Göttingen in Germany have found that men viewing videos of silhouettes of dancing women were more likely to describe those who were ovulating at the time as more attractive than women at other stages of their menstrual cycle, which goes contrary to the longstanding theory of “concealed” ovulation in humans. The team led by Bernhard Fink reports on their findings in a paper published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
Despite a growing body of evidence that suggests that men are able to not only detect when women are ovulating, but find them more attractive, many old school scholars maintain that human beings don’t have anything resembling going into “heat” during the most fertile stage of the their menstrual cycle, as is evident in other species, such as cats. Now new research casts even more doubt on the theory.
The researchers picked up where another study left off, where a group found that strippers tended to get better tips when ovulating. Unfortunately, because of the close proximity of the dancers and the patrons, there was no way to tell what it was about the women that caused the men to want to tip more. The new team sought better control by eliminating the possibility of smell or other factors by recording forty eight women (aged 19 to 33) dancing in silhouette, in similar outfits and with their hair tied down. They then showed the videos to two hundred young male students at the university. They report that the men, who didn’t know what the purpose of the study was, much less which women were ovulating and which weren’t, found those women who were ovulating at the time they were recorded dancing, to be “significantly more attractive.” The team also recorded silhouettes of the women simply walking around and found that the majority of male viewers found those who were ovulating more attractive in that scenario as well.
Research regarding whether women behave differently when ovulating has generated controversy as more and more studies have found that men are able to pick up on subtle changes to body movements during the times when women are most fertile. Some have suggested that such studies are more about seeking headlines than science, while researchers insist that their studies show that women behave in ways that men see as sexier when they are their most fertile, which biologically speaking would seem to make the most sense. But that critics say, ignores the fact that people have evolved over their long history, quashing animalistic instincts that led our forebears to behave far differently than what is going on today.
More information: DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2012.06.005
Journal reference: Personality and Individual Differences