Although we may not like to admit it, we form impressions about others based on physical appearance, especially when it comes to identifying potential mates. But what factors make those impressions more accurate? It turns out that women’s impressions of men’s sexual orientation are affected by where they are in their menstrual cycles.
In a series of studies,1 heterosexual women were shown photos of males and asked to guess whether the guys were homosexual or heterosexual (the researchers collected this information from the guys in advance). Women near peak ovulation were more accurate at making these judgments compared to women who were not ovulating. Interestingly, their accuracy was only enhanced when guessing about men’s sexual orientation; their guesses about women’s sexual orientation were unaffected by fertility.
It seems that women are selectively accurate and better at picking out potential partners (at least males who might be interested in them) when they have the highest chance of conceiving.
1Rule, N. O., Rosen, K. S., Slepian, & Ambady, N. (in press). Mating interest improves women’s accuracy in judging male sexual orientation. Psychological Science.
Dr. Benjamin Le – Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Le’s research focuses on commitment, including the factors associated with commitment and its role in promoting maintenance. He has published on the topics of breakup, geographic separation, infidelity, social networks, cognition, and need fulfillment and emotions in relationships.