Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Psychologists find link between ovulation and women's ability to identify heterosexual men

Date:
June 23, 2011
Source:
University of Toronto
Summary:
A woman can more accurately identify a man's sexual orientation when looking at his face, when she is closest to her time of peak ovulation, psychologists show. Further, having romantic thoughts or a mating goal heightens a woman's ability to discriminate between straight and gay men.

A new study by psychologists at the University of Toronto and Tufts University shows that a woman can more accurately identify a man's sexual orientation when looking at his face, when she is closest to her time of peak ovulation. Further, having romantic thoughts or a mating goal heightens a woman's ability to discriminate between straight and gay men.

"This effect is not apparent when a woman is judging another female's orientation," says Professor Nicholas Rule of the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto, lead author of a new study published in Psychological Science. "This suggests that fertility influences a heterosexual woman's attention to potential mates rather than merely increasing sensitivity to sexual orientation or nonverbal cues more generally."

In the first of three experiments, 40 undergraduate women judged the sexual orientation of 80 images of men's faces. Forty of the photos were of self-identified gay males while the other 40 were of straight men. The men did not differ in emotional expression or attractiveness, and the female participants were encouraged to use their intuition in making judgments. In addition, the women reported the length of time since their last menstrual cycle and its average duration; none were using any systemic contraceptive medications.

The researchers correlated the participants' accuracy in judging sexual orientation with the point at which the women were in their fertility cycle, and found that the nearer women were to peak ovulation, the more accurate they were at judging each male's sexual orientation.

The second experiment featured 34 women who viewed a similar series of female faces, 100 of whom were self-identified lesbians while another 100 were straight. The researchers found no relationship between fertility and accurate judgments of the women's sexual orientation.

"Together, these findings suggest that women's accuracy may vary across the fertility cycle because men's sexual orientation is relevant to conception and thus of greater importance as women are nearer to ovulation."

The researchers tested this hypothesis further with a third experiment in which female participants were primed with a mating goal in order to manipulate reproductive relevance. Half of the 40 participants were asked to read a story which described a romantic encounter while the other half did not, before performing the same tasks in the two previous studies. Rule and his colleagues found that the women primed with a mating goal were significantly more accurate in their judgments than the women who were not, implying that inducing romantic or mating-related thoughts improved accuracy in identifying men's sexual orientations.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. N. O. Rule, K. S. Rosen, M. L. Slepian, N. Ambady. Mating Interest Improves Women's Accuracy in Judging Male Sexual Orientation. Psychological Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/0956797611412394

Cite This Page:

University of Toronto. "Psychologists find link between ovulation and women's ability to identify heterosexual men." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110622162309.htm>.
University of Toronto. (2011, June 23). Psychologists find link between ovulation and women's ability to identify heterosexual men. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110622162309.htm
University of Toronto. "Psychologists find link between ovulation and women's ability to identify heterosexual men." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110622162309.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

Newsy (Apr. 13, 2014) Researchers at the University of Michigan have designed an app to fight jet lag by adjusting your body's light intake. Video provided by Newsy
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