Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Prejudice linked to women's menstrual cycle, study suggests

Date:
June 24, 2011
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Women's bias against male strangers increases when women are fertile, suggesting prejudice may be partly fueled by genetics, according to a new study.

Research by Melissa McDonald, doctoral student in psychology, and Carlos Navarrete, assistant professor of psychology, explores the link between fertility and prejudice.
Credit: Michigan State University

Women's bias against male strangers increases when women are fertile, suggesting prejudice may be partly fueled by genetics, according to a study by Michigan State University psychology researchers.

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, appears online in Psychological Science.

"Our findings suggest that women's prejudice, at least in part, may be a byproduct of their biology," said Melissa McDonald, a doctoral student and lead author on the paper.

The researchers conducted scientific studies with two groups of women that investigated how women's implicit attitudes toward men change across the menstrual cycle. They found that fertile women were more biased against men of different races and men of different social groups than men of their own group.

Importantly, though, the increase in bias occurred only for women who perceived the men as physically threatening, said Carlos David Navarrete, assistant professor of psychology and research team leader. Navarrete, an evolutionary psychologist, and his team explore big-picture topics such as morality and race relations.

Previous research has focused on men within the same racial and social groups. In those cases, women who were fertile had more positive impressions of men who were physically imposing. These results suggest that the same traits that fertile women find attractive in men of their same group may actually lead to more negativity against men when those traits are associated with men of a different racial or social group, McDonald said.

McDonald and Navarrete said their team's findings are consistent with the idea that women's prejudice may reflect the workings of an evolved psychological system that once functioned to protect them from sexual coercion, particularly when the costs are highest -- that is, when women are fertile.

To minimize this threat, McDonald said, women may be more biased against men who have posed the greatest risk to their reproductive choice. Male strangers may have posed considerable risk of sexual coercion throughout human history, she said, as sexual aggression against women by male "invaders" has been a pervasive problem since ancient times.

"This may be deeply ingrained at psychological levels," Navarrete said, "and may manifest itself particularly if women believe men from different racial and nonracial groups to be physically imposing and when women are most fertile."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. M. McDonald, B. D. Asher, N. L. Kerr, C. D. Navarrete. Fertility and Intergroup Bias in Racial and Minimal-Group Contexts: Evidence for Shared Architecture. Psychological Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/0956797611410985

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Prejudice linked to women's menstrual cycle, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110622102857.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2011, June 24). Prejudice linked to women's menstrual cycle, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110622102857.htm
Michigan State University. "Prejudice linked to women's menstrual cycle, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110622102857.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) A new study shows stress at work can be hard on your health, but people who are unemployed might be at even greater risk of health problems. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Google says it is following Europe's new "Right To Be Forgotten Law," which eliminates user information upon request, but only to a certain degree. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Sometimes the signs of a stroke are far from easy to recognize. Learn from one young father’s story on the signs of a stroke. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Could eating carbohydrates be harmful to our brain health? Find out what one neurologist says about changing our diets. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins