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Science

Women "Advertise" Fertility 317

Posted by kdawson
from the but-we-knew-this dept.
Dik Zak writes with word of a paper published in the journal Hormones and Behavior. A study found that women take greater care over their appearance when they are at peak levels of monthly fertility. The researchers took two photos of each of 30 women, one near ovulation and one at the other end of her cycle. They then showed the paired photos (with faces obscured) to a group of observers, who were asked to judge in which photo the women were trying to look more attractive. The observers chose the "high fertility" subject nearly 60% more of the time than would be expected by chance.
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Women "Advertise" Fertility

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  • by FST (766202) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @04:52PM (#17562928) Journal
    Looks like kdawson isn't too fertile right now.
  • by atari2600 (545988) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @04:52PM (#17562932)
    Like you uhh know you we are (most of us) are at the 100% fertility rate most of the time and uhhh we don't care about advertising it. I am not sure where i am going with this. Oh snap, i need to shave the 4 month old beard. Wonder where dad keeps his razor...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tackhead (54550)
      > Like you uhh know you we are (most of us) are at the 100% fertility rate most of the time and uhhh we don't care about advertising it. I am not sure where i am going with this. Oh snap, i need to shave the 4 month old beard. Wonder where dad keeps his razor...

      Apparently, for at least four times during that interval, it's been in Mom's drawer.

      (Sorry, that was too easy.)

    • by kalirion (728907) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:32PM (#17563754)
      What it really means for men is that the more attracted you are the the woman you're having sex with, the greater the chances that you'll need to use protection.

      Of course the only true way to be safe is to abs^H^H^Hread slashdot.
    • It means... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11, 2007 @06:00PM (#17564264)
      This is the one type of advertising where you don't want your pop-up to be blocked.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Viper Daimao (911947)
      I know it means little for /. men, since we don't appear to be in their target audience.
  • 60% of 30? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scooter (8281) <owen.annicnova@force9@net> on Thursday January 11, 2007 @04:53PM (#17562956)
    Hardly statistically significant:-

    60% of 30 is 18 - I mean come on, that's only 3 over the pure chance 50%!
    • by Scooter (8281)
      Just re-read that and it could mean they chose it a number of times 60% bigger than the number of times they chose the other, which is better but still - 30's hardly a big sample...

      • Re:60% of 30? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Surt (22457) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:05PM (#17563220) Homepage Journal
        The article and summary are in disagreement. Choosing to assume the article is more likely to be right, it is 60% right guesses vs expected 50% right guesses.

        However, also omitted from the summary is 42 guessers guessing on the 30 dress-up-women in the study. That's 42x30 guesses, with a 60% correct guess rate overall. 60% with more than a thousand sample points is well within the usual scientific standard for statistically significant.

        • by _Swank (118097)
          actually the two linked articles are in disagreement. the dailymail article says that they chose the more fertile one 60% of the time. the newscientist article says that they chose the more fertile one 60% more of the time than would be expected by random (same as what the summary says).

          and if i had to choose between the two, i'd say the newscientist article is more likely to be worded correctly.
    • by Surt (22457)
      42 judges on average got 18/30 right.
      That's a total of 126 more right guesses than expected out of 1260 guesses.
    • by mspohr (589790)
      Which part of "The observers chose the "high fertility" subject nearly 60% more of the time than would be expected by chance" don't you understand?
      • by Surt (22457)
        That's not his fault, it's the summaries fault. His interpretation is actually correct if you read the actual article.

        Nevertheless, he is still wrong about the statistical significance.
    • No, 60% more (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:02PM (#17563140) Homepage
      Not 60% of the time, but 60% more than expected if it were chance alone. So more likely 1.6 * (30*.5) = 24/30, not 18/30.

      But of course the actual number isn't in the article.
      • by duranaki (776224)
        Ok.. but can we all agree that 30 is a ridiculously low sample size?
        • Re:No, 60% more (Score:5, Informative)

          by Surt (22457) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:18PM (#17563454) Homepage Journal
          30 is a low sample size, but would not be unusual in psychology studies. There are statistical tests you can perform to find out the minimum effect size to declare significance. I've seen studies with meaningful results in as few as 8 samples.

          Nevertheless, this particular study had 1260 samples. 42 guessers * 30 guesses each. More than a thousand samples is plenty for significance.
        • No because it was 30 pictures among 40 independantly scoring judges. 1200 samples in all.

          Yes they could have done for more women. But personally I think it was stupid to "obscure" the faces, I'd bet their results would would have been higher**

          **Assuming the study was right in the first place.
      • Re:No, 60% more (Score:5, Informative)

        by Surt (22457) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:08PM (#17563278) Homepage Journal
        The article is clear on this, the slashdot summary is wrong. It's 60% right guesses for 42 guessers against 30 pictures, over a thousand total guesses, with 60% right instead of 50% right.
        • by Chris Burke (6130)
          No, the slashdot summary is quoting New Scientist, which is also refered to by the Daily Mall article. Sounds to me like Daily Mall may be misquoting New Scientist, but of course the full New Scientist article isn't available online.
        • Re:No, 60% more (Score:5, Interesting)

          by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:35PM (#17563838) Homepage
          Much more interesting is women's tendencies to forget to take birth control, and to have affairs during ovulation [socialpsychology.org].

          [W]hen women have sexual affairs with someone other than the husband or boyfriend, the affair often occurs during ovulation, the woman and her partner typically use no birth control, and the partner chosen by the woman has some quality that the husband/boyfriend lacks (Baker & Bellis, 1993; Bellis & Baker, 1990).
          • by EraseEraseMe (167638) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:39PM (#17563906)
            the partner chosen by the woman has some quality that the husband/boyfriend lacks
            Like a Porsche...
      • Check the article again [dailymail.co.uk], "The judges chose the photo taken during the fertile phases 60 per cent of the time."

        The judges picked the fertile phase photo 60% of the time, when random chance would suggest 50%. This is an 20% more than random chance would predict. Significant, but not quite as amazing as a 60% difference that the summary erroneously suggests.

      • by Man of E (531031)
        Picking the ovulating one 24 out of 30 times is a ridiculously strong result, with p-value 0.000162 - that's a hundredth of one percent! I think we're misinterpreting the article or the summary.
        • by Surt (22457)
          It's the slashdot summary, they misquoted the Daily Mail by inserting the word 'more'.
          It's really just 60% right guesses vs expected 50% right guesses.
      • 60% increase in observations picked correctly.

        They showed pairs of pictures of 30 women to a group of observers. Suppose there were 25 people in the test group ("observers"). Each was shown all 30 pairs of pictures. That's 25*30=750 observations, each with an opportunity to pick the right one.

        Chance would say they'd pick the high-fertility picture 50% of the time; 325 out of 750 observations. Instead they picked it 60% more often than that, i.e. 520 times. (=1.6 * 325). The fact that there were 520
        • by Surt (22457)
          The slashdot summary misquoted the daily mail, which summarized the study reasonably correctly.

          It was just plain 60% right guesses vs expected 50% right guesses.

          And the sample size was roughly a total of 1200 guesses. So roughly 720 guesses right vs expected 600 guesses right.
      • by LoudMusic (199347)

        Not 60% of the time, but 60% more than expected if it were chance alone. So more likely 1.6 * (30*.5) = 24/30, not 18/30.

        But of course the actual number isn't in the article.
        Exactly. I love it when stats aren't displayed as stats. Pretty much invalidates the entire study in my book.

        You know, 37.4% of all statistics are made up, anyway.
      • To two different articles. The word "more" came from the second link, which was to New Scientist, which according to the helpful link provided by brian0918, is wrong. It was in fact a 60% rate of picking the picture of the ovulating woman. Anyway, that's where the confusion came from.
    • FULL ARTICLE (Score:5, Informative)

      by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@@@gmail...com> on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:08PM (#17563282)
      The full article can be found here [sciencedirect.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ggKimmieGal (982958)
      From just personal female experience, I'll say it's probably true anyway. All of the girls I know (including myself) tend to wear hoodies, sweat pants and jeans during their least fertile time. However, I don't think the findings were properly analyzed.

      Instead it seems women subconsciously don their trendier clothes, more jewellery, plaster on make-up and flash more flesh when they are the most fertile moment in their monthly cycle.

      I would make a very safe bet that it isn't a subconscious thing at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11, 2007 @04:55PM (#17562976)
    There's a reason other than "randomness" that your wife bothers you more at times. It's not just because she thinks that you need "a break from your work". Open your eyes, men! She wants something from you!

    My wife and I figured this out ages ago. She's all over me during ovulation. Anyone who's married and paying attention should also be able to notice this. But then again, how many guys know their wife's monthly schedule? Hmm.

    --Posted as AC for privacy
    • by good soldier svejk (571730) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:00PM (#17563114)
      Per my comment below, [slashdot.org] my wife and I have the inverse relationship. And I always know her schedule because if I find myself humping her leg, she is probably menstruating.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kiaser Zohsay (20134)
      But then again, how many guys know their wife's monthly schedule?
      This works both ways. When she's near the end of her cycle, I'm near the end of my rope! Of course, women in general tend care less about everything near the end of their cycle, not just personal grooming. Does the phrase "Oh, to hell with it all, where's the Haagen Das?" ring any bells?
    • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:05PM (#17563218) Journal
      I learned something very early with my wife: when she hits ovulation, she's less interested me when I'm clean-cut and smelling good and all that and more interested in me when I haven't shaved, have been working outside all day, and am wearing some pretty rough-looking clothes.

      The theory is that she goes for rugged-looking me because it makes me look stronger and tougher and so I look like a better choice for reproduction. "Strong man make strong babies" or something like that.

      Knowing when she ovulates means knowing which days I can skip shaving and don't have to clean up before giving her a kiss after doing yardwork.
    • by doktor-hladnjak (650513) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:08PM (#17563274)
      But then again, how many guys know their wife's monthly schedule?

      Just another reason, I'm glad I'm gay.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        But then again, how many guys know their wife's monthly schedule?
        Just another reason, I'm glad I'm gay.


        Yes, but then you have to know your partner's daily tri-therapy schedule...

    • No disrespect intended toward your wife, but maybe you notice this time of the month in a positive light because the time before and during her period she's less sexy. In other words, if you see it like a wave, maybe it's not that the crest is so high, but that the trough is so low.

      The women I've known tend toward grumpiness just before their period, and often during it. In my experience, people who don't feel nice on the inside tend not to show it on the outside. I tend to notice sweat pants more often
    • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:20PM (#17563498) Homepage Journal
      But then again, how many guys know their wife's monthly schedule?
      I know your wife's monthly schedule.
    • by mdf356 (774923)
      I can smell when my wife is ovulating. Not consciously, but I get a lot more horny at the right time -- she got pregnant at age 37 three weeks after we got married, because I could "smell" it and we humped three times in 24 hours.

      The next time was almost as fast -- five weeks after she stopped nursing, pregnant again.

      Cheers,
      Matt
  • by good soldier svejk (571730) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @04:57PM (#17563036)
    According to my wife I have a genetic defect which causes me to be more attracted to her when she is menstruating. This has obvious disadvantages in that she is both unlikely to get pregnant and unlikely to not kick my ass when fondled in that state. Good thing I don't want kids, or a genetic legacy.
  • by DrMindWarp (663427) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @04:59PM (#17563072)
    A similar study was conducted about 10 years ago, if not more. Slashdot! News for amnesiacs. Stuff that mattered long ago.
    • by jfengel (409917)
      TFA is a regular newspaper citing a New Scientist article, whose author may have read the original paper or perhaps just the press release.

      All that gets reported is what is old news, as you point out. The original work is by Baker and Bellis, and dates back to the 80s. but isn't cited in this article. Baker and Bellis' work has been criticized as being poorly controlled and subject to sample bias.

      This study has a stronger statistical basis, and that's news. But most of the actual articles won't talk about
    • Exactly. Desmond Morris' "The Human Animal" documentary series from the mid 90s went into great detail the evolution of sexual behaviour. Women are more likely to wear less clothing when ovulating and they're more likely to cheat on their primary partners. Conversely men' penis heads are shaped like plungers to suction competitive sperm out of the woman's vagina, men are more likely to have a larger sperm count when separated from their primary partner for periods of time OR if they think she hasn't been fa
  • Women? (Score:4, Funny)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @04:59PM (#17563076)
    Dear stranger, what is this "women" you speak of?
  • Bad study (Score:5, Insightful)

    by G00F (241765) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:00PM (#17563108) Homepage
    The case study was to small, only 30 women with only 2 pictures, not only did we not collect data, but with the lack of numbers we creates a very large error of margin.

    Example, flip a coin once, and you get heads, your test reveals 100% heads when flipping a coin. Flip it 10 times, you got heads 3 times, so according to this test when flipping a coin you have 30% chance to get heads. Now flip it 100 times. That number will be a lot closer to 50%.

    Try 1000 women with 6 pictures each (3 in prime and 3 out of prime) then have 100 different people scoring each card.

    All this test does is shows is hey maybe there is something, and let us do a real test.

    • by Surt (22457)
      There are over a thousand coin flip equivalents in this study.

      42 guessers * 30 pictures each = 1260 samples.
      • by cnettel (836611)
        In a way there is. It's hard to tell without knowing the numbers. We have both uncertainty in the classification (the 42) and the uncertainty in the actual behavior of menstruating women (the 30). With what we have been told, it's possible that the classifications were actually always quite consistent (80/20 or something), but the preference regarding "ovulating/not ovulating" in fact shifted depending on the set of pictures shown. If so, we're basically back to 30 coin tosses. We certainly don't have 1260
    • by Kelson (129150) *
      Try 1000 women with 6 pictures each (3 in prime and 3 out of prime) then have 100 different people scoring each card.

      Or better yet, 6 pictures at 6 different points in their cycles. Fertility is a range of probabilities, not a boolean value.

    • by flynt (248848)
      They did do a real test, look at the actual publication in "Hormones and Behavior".
  • The summary says that the fertile pic was chosen 60% more often than expected by pure chance, however the article states it was simply chosen 60% of the time, and that it was "Well beyond random chance" which is quoted in the article that way as well. The author may have known that the term might not be appropriate to describe a 60%/40% split with 30 subjects and 42 judges.

    But hey, keep refining and expanding the group and see if the rate stays steady or increases. Could be very interesting.
    • by Surt (22457)
      42 judges * 30 subjects = 1260 samples. 60% right is well outside of random chance for that many samples.
  • Come on (Score:2, Funny)

    by chanrobi (944359)
    What a jip. I wanted to see the pictures they used not the boring words they used in their study write up :)
  • by ElleyKitten (715519) <.kittensunrise. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:04PM (#17563182) Journal
    When I'm at "the other end of my cycle" aka, my period, I'm bleeding and bloated and cramping and my face is breaking out, and looking pretty is not exactly high on my list. When I'm not, looking pretty is much less of a hassle. So, not exactly rocket science here.
    • by gfilion (80497) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:16PM (#17563432) Homepage

      When I'm at "the other end of my cycle" aka, my period, I'm bleeding and bloated and cramping and my face is breaking out, and looking pretty is not exactly high on my list. When I'm not, looking pretty is much less of a hassle. So, not exactly rocket science here.

      They did a similar study a while ago in a bar. They would ask female volunteers to give a saliva sample and have their picture taken. Then they calculated the area of the body that showed skin and found a correlation between "showing more skin" and ovulation. So it's likely more than just wanting to feel pretty, I mean you don't go in a bar if you feel "bloated and cramping". To me it looks like women are more horny why they are ovulating, which makes perfect sense if you think in terms of evolution.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GodInHell (258915) *

        They did a similar study a while ago in a bar. They would ask female volunteers to give a saliva sample and have their picture taken. Then they calculated the area of the body that showed skin and found a correlation between "showing more skin" and ovulation. So it's likely more than just wanting to feel pretty, I mean you don't go in a bar if you feel "bloated and cramping". To me it looks like women are more horny why they are ovulating, which makes perfect sense if you think in terms of evolution.

        Right.. because women just stop living one week out of every 4. Or, oh wait, they could just go out when they feel like that and try to have fun - you know, since they're not sick (like you would be if you were feeling like that) and there's no damn reason not to. But, no, probably not feeling all that "frisky."

        -GiH

    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      The issue of looking good isn't the whole thing though, and we already know it's related to the cycle so that's not new information. Women will also tend to pick lower-cut tops and higher-cut bottoms at that point in their cycle, it's not just about how THEY look, it affects what they choose to wear and such as well. It's an overall shift in mood, which admittedly shouldn't surprise anyone who actually knows any women.
    • by LoudMusic (199347)

      When I'm at "the other end of my cycle" aka, my period, I'm bleeding and bloated and cramping and my face is breaking out, and looking pretty is not exactly high on my list. When I'm not, looking pretty is much less of a hassle. So, not exactly rocket science here.
      But all the rocket scientists have real jobs so the scientists that were left over ended up working on this project ;)
  • Too bad we can't actually the results. Then we could judge for ourselves.
  • does it really mean anything for us humans? I mean, if women actually attracted more men when they look attractive, then we wouldn't have had a surge of babies 9 months after the northeast power blackout, quite the contrary.

    I'm sure human being still have a tendency to "display" their fertility, by looks or by scents, on some unconscious level, simply because we're just really clever monkeys, but I'm not certain humans are receptive to these signals anymore, and if they are, psychological and intelligent de
    • but experimentally i've verified that i'm more likely to end up in a bed with a cute girl than someone with unfortunate looks.

      Also, i've noted that if she grabs my package, i stop caring about looks until after the deed is done, so maybe it's a wash.
      • but experimentally i've verified that i'm more likely to end up in a bed with a cute girl than someone with unfortunate looks.

        Actually your preferences in girls are entirely societal: I'm assuming you're a westerner who prefers slim, tall, magazine-cover-beautiful girls, but if you were an animal, you'd opt for a fat, squat, muscular-looking female who would be statistically more able to have your babies and care for them.

        Also, i've noted that if she grabs my package, i stop caring about looks until after t
    • I mean, if women actually attracted more men when they look attractive, then we wouldn't have had a surge of babies 9 months after the northeast power blackout, quite the contrary.
      Actually, that's a myth [abc.net.au].
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I'm sure human being still have a tendency to "display" their fertility, by looks or by scents, on some unconscious level, simply because we're just really clever monkeys, but I'm not certain humans are receptive to these signals anymore, and if they are, psychological and intelligent decision-making processes in the brain probably supercede animal instincts.

      I'm pretty damned sure that humans are still receptive to these signals. Haven't you ever been in the presence of someone who you didn't find all t

    • psychological and intelligent decision-making processes in the brain probably supercede animal instincts.

      Actually, one of the hazards of sex is that animal instincts often do override intelligent decision-making processes. That's why many college campuses try to make condoms as available as possible (through conveniently-located vending machines, mainly, though student health at my college would give them out for free): They know students are going to be having sex, and when you're in bed with someone, y

    • They're called pheromones. And yes, we can most definitely sense these.

      Anecdotal: I'm not a particularly attractive guy, but chicks dig me. I can't explain it.
    • Re:Yes but (Score:5, Funny)

      by bcattwoo (737354) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @06:15PM (#17564460)

      does it really mean anything for us humans? I mean, if women actually attracted more men when they look attractive, then we wouldn't have had a surge of babies 9 months after the northeast power blackout, quite the contrary.

      Sure we would. Everyone looks better in the dark.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:14PM (#17563382)
    So they'll advertise, but never actually have any for sale? It's like shopping at Best Buy.
  • My wife ways ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tim Ward (514198) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:14PM (#17563390) Homepage
    ... "only years later did I work out that all my successful driving tests, interviews etc were at times when I was fertile".
  • .... Before or after women get married?
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:23PM (#17563550) Homepage Journal
    If HUMAN FEMALES really wanted to advertise fertility they have their nose light up and breasts double in size.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      If HUMAN FEMALES really wanted to advertise fertility they have their nose light up and breasts double in size.

      It's called "plastic surgery" (at least for the breast size), and it's designed to advertise fertility at some unconscious level. As for the nose thing, only female clown performers do that to attract male clowns.
    • by conteXXt (249905)
      Or even easier:

      They'd offer to buy YOU (or rather me :-) a *drink.

      *substitute "What's your sign?", "What distro do you run?", "Can I run a beowolf cluster of you?",etc
  • by flynt (248848) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:28PM (#17563678)
    I am a statistician, and reading through the comments hear, am saddened that many readers claim that "statistical significance" could not have been achieved in this study because of a sample size of 30 women. First, that's only part of the random sample in this study, the other part is men sampled to judge the pictures.

    Second of all, I have looked up the actual publication in "Hormones and Behavior", and the p-value associated with their main test is .01, which usually signifies statistical significance.

    Ultimately, determining whether some difference in populations is due to chance depends on more than just sample size. It depends on how large of a difference you want to detect, and the variance of the measurements within a group. Of course, larger sample sizes help, but it ultimately depends on what you're studying, and the design of the experiment.

    So while I definitely applaud being sceptical of all statistics, I urge you to look up the actual publications, read the methodology, and then decide if the results are something you believe. Kneejerk reactions to n = 30 don't really help anyone though.

    I have not read through this publication in its entirety yet.
    • by Jerf (17166) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:46PM (#17564010) Journal
      I am a statistician, and reading through the comments hear, am saddened that many readers claim that "statistical significance" could not have been achieved in this study because of a sample size of 30 women.
      I blame schooling for this. Not counting my actual statistics classes, whenever I was asked to criticize a paper I always got credit for complaining that the sample size was too small, even when I knew I was completely full of shit and even when the various measurements of significance were sitting right there in the paper.

      All you've got is the lone statistics course fighting even the other professors at a University, who apparently apply the statistical significance tests by rote, but don't really "believe" in them (or understand them to any degree). It's not hard to guess which will "win".
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:37PM (#17563876) Journal
    Doc: Thank you for volunteering for our experiment
    Subject: That's fine. What's it about?
    Doc: We can't tell you. But could you tell me what part of your menstrual cycle you're in?
    Subject: So it's about menstrual cycles?
    Doc: No. We ask everyone that quaestion.
    Subject: I believe you.
  • by shrubya (570356) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:39PM (#17563920) Homepage Journal
    To put this matter to rest, here are some relevant paragraphs of article text (thank you, worldwide university subscription):

    Method
    Procedure: photographic stimuli

    Thirty women from the UCLA campus (mean age = 21.07 years old; SD = 2.35; range 18-37) posed for two standing full-body digital photographs with their hands placed at their sides (Canon PowerShot S410, 4.0 Megapixels). Women identified themselves as African American (n = 1), Asian American (n = 10), Caucasian (n = 6), Hispanic/Latino (n = 7), and mixed race or "other" (n = 6). One photograph was taken on a high fertility day of the cycle (follicular phase) and one on a low fertility day of the cycle (luteal phase). Photographs were taken in the same location under standardized lighting conditions against a plain blue background. All women reported regular menstrual cycles (ranging between 26 and 35 days), were partnered (involved in a "committed romantic relationship" with a man), and none had used oral or other hormonal contraceptives within the last three months. Because previous studies have found stronger ovulatory effects in partnered than in non-partnered women (e.g., Havlicek et al., 2005 and Pillsworth et al., 2004), we limited our investigation to partnered women.

    Session scheduling and luteinizing hormone (LH) testing were conducted using the procedures described in Gangestad et al. (2002). There were three sessions--an initial session for cycle history assessment and scheduling and subsequent high and low fertility sessions. After initial sessions, women were scheduled to return for the next possible session (low or high) given their current cycle day. Low fertility sessions were scheduled to occur 4-10 days prior to the estimated day of next menstrual onset. Actual menstrual onset was reported by 66.7% of women after their low fertility session; for the balance of participants, menstrual onset was estimated using cycle length and the last date of menstrual onset. On average, based on these information sources, low fertility sessions took place 5.87 days prior to menses (SD = 2.5; three women participated within 48 h of menstrual onset and possibly could have experienced premenstrual symptoms; therefore, days-to-menstrual-onset is included in the analyses presented below). High fertility sessions were scheduled to occur 15-17 days prior to the next estimated menstrual onset. Participants also reported to the laboratory to complete urine tests beginning two days prior to their high fertility session and continuing for three days after this session or until an LH surge was detected. Using an unmarked commercially available urinary stick ovulation test (Clearblue(TM)), all women were judged to have an LH surge between three days after and two days before their high fertility session. An LH surge typically proceeds ovulation by 24-48 h (Guermandi et al., 2001); thus, all women were likely to be near ovulation during their high fertility session. Within the fertile window of the cycle, conception risk increases as ovulation approaches (Wilcox et al., 1995). We therefore estimated days-to-ovulation (by adding two to days-to-LH surge; mean = 3.03, SD = 1.40) and included this estimate in the analyses reported below.

    These 30 women were a subset of 58 originally recruited for the study. Women ineligible for inclusion in the study either showed no evidence of an LH surge (n = 4), were rescheduled for low fertility sessions (due to their own time constraints) on days falling outside of the range of the luteal phase days (n = 3), did not consent to having photos taken (n = 7), consented to having their photos taken but did not consent to having their photos judged by people other than the researchers (n = 7), or did not complete all sessions (n = 7). There were no significant differences in relationship satisfaction, sociosexuality (Simpson and Gangestad, 1991), age, or relationship length between women retained in the study and those who were ineligible.

    Participants were blind to the purpose of the stu

  • by MCTFB (863774) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @05:59PM (#17564250)
    that if women dress more attractive when they are most fertile, as well as the fact that fertility for women falls sharply after age 30, that women generally don't give a crap about their appearance past age 30?

    Doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me, since women seem to put on more makeup, as well as visit the plastic surgeon more often as they get older. The vanity of women seems to increase with age if you ask me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11, 2007 @06:39PM (#17564890)
    What woman in her right mind would allow someone to take photos of her based on her freakin' period?

    "Will you be menstrating in the next week?"

    *smack*

    "I take that as a yes."
  • Interesting... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by inviolet (797804) <slashdot @ i d e a smatter.org> on Thursday January 11, 2007 @07:09PM (#17565392) Journal
    A study found that women take greater care over their appearance when they are at peak levels of monthly fertility.

    Interesting, but hardly surprising. It reminds me of a cool evolutionary-psychology speculation about why women get bitchy when their periods start. The start of a period indicates that her partner has failed to impregnate her, so in terms of natural selection, that is the time to seriously reconsider the relationship.

    In any case, it is deeply alarming to see such mounting evidence that most of our "free choices" are impelled from below, from the parts of our brains that still believe we are living in the jungle.

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