Seminar Series

Hormone-mediated mate preferences in women

While females in many non-human species demonstrate striking preferences for males displaying masculine traits, women’s preferences for masculine men are considerably more variable. In this talk, I will first review the evidence that this variability is, at least partly, due to a trade off between the positive (e.g., health and strength) and negative (e.g., low investment and commitment) characteristics that are correlated with masculinity in men. I will then discuss the evidence that changes in hormone levels associated with fertility, such as those that occur over the menstrual cycle, alter women’s priorities when assessing men’s attractiveness, changing their mate preferences. Finally, I will discuss the possibility that exogenous hormones in oral contraceptives have similar effects on women’s mate preferences, potentially with downstream implications for relationship outcomes.