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Women’s probability of conception is associated with their preference for flirtatious but not masculine facial movement

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Women’s preferences for facial structure vary over the menstrual cycle. Little is known, however, as to how preferences for behavior may be influenced by hormonal factors. Here, we demonstrate that social properties of facial motion influence attractiveness judgments in the absence of other cues, and that women’s preferences for these displays vary over the menstrual cycle, as has been demonstrated for structural traits of men’s faces in static stimuli. We produced shape-standardized facial models that were animated with male movement and assessed for flirtatiousness by 16 women and attractiveness by 47 women. In fertile phases of the menstrual cycle, women showed stronger preferences for flirtatious movement, but not for absolute movement. These data show that women (1) recognize specific mating-relevant social cues in male facial movement and (2) are differentially influenced by these cues at different phases of the menstrual cycle. This preference for flirtatiousness may promote the adaptive allocation of mating effort towards men who are, in turn, likely to respond positively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1297-1304
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Sexual Behaviour
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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