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In light of obvious changes that occur in non-human primates and other animals during the female’s fertile period, it has long been assumed that human ovulation is concealed. Recent research in this area; however, suggests that the human body does provide information about fertility. The potential effects of fertility on attraction and Presentation of Fitness were explored in a 3-phase project. Women’s cycles(75 ovulating women(18-24)from campus A)were tracked for ~5 weeks so that the exact date of ovulation could be pinpointed. Photos of the women were taken every day during this time. Photos of the women during their most fertile 24 hours (immediately before ovulation) were compared in a counterbalanced between-subject design to photos from other stages of the fertility cycle Men(100 hetero males(18-24)from campus B) rated each picture for attractiveness and sexual desirability. The photos were examined for subtle changes in the women’s faces and in self-presentation. It was hypothesized that men’s attraction to women would be higher when women were fertile than when they were not, and that subtle facial changes are at the core of this increased attractiveness. These hypotheses were supported by the data. Further, we expected to find that women would present themselves as “more fit” mates during their fertile period by putting more effort into their appearance (e.g., more makeup, more attention to hair) and dressing in a more attractive manner (as rated by men), thus mimicking and enhancing the natural effects of estrogen. This hypothesis was supported. Interestingly, computerized analysis of women’s faces showed the upper lips of ovulating women were significantly larger than the upper lips of non-ovulating women, F(1,29)=67.305,p<.01.It is possible that this is an unconscious cue to potential mates that a woman is fertile and it may also be correlated with male participant’s ratings of attractiveness. Results are discussed in terms of mate selection theory.


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  • Subject
    • Psychological Science

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
    • Dahlonega - LTC 163

  • Event date
    • 31 March 2015

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Kelly Cate