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25 April 2006
Ovulation Gets Men All Hot And Bothered

Studies in the past have found that women change their preference in men according to where they are in their monthly cycle. Around ovulation, women tend to find masculine looking men more attractive, as well as preferring their voices and odor. Researchers say that during this fertile phase, women are more likely to have an affair with a macho-man, as masculine qualities are linked to high testosterone levels, supposedly indicating valuable genetic traits, that can then be passed on to children.

Now, new research from the University of Liverpool has found that men can sense this preference shift in their female partners, and it can trigger jealousy and feelings of being threatened. Interestingly, the effect was not observed in men with female partners taking oral contraceptives.

To conduct the study, Rob Burriss and Anthony Little showed images of male faces that were either high or low in dominant features (such as a strong jaw lines and thinner lips), to male participants who then provided "ratings" of dominance for each image. The male participants whose partners were near ovulation rated masculine faces more dominant than those participants with partners who were not near ovulation.

"Groups of animals, such as chimpanzees, can live quite happily together, but when a female is ready to mate the two dominant males within the group become rivals and fight for her attention. Similarly in humans, rated dominance increases when the female is most fertile. What is interesting here is that male behavior is determined by that of the females; men become more wary of masculine-looking men only when the females facial preferences begin to shift prior to ovulation," explained Burriss. "Face shape and structure are good indicators of dominance. Men with large eyes, rounded chin and full lips, are viewed as more feminine and are chosen as long-term partners. They are not, however, seen as dominant. During the female's most fertile phase, she tends to prefer faces that indicate high testosterone levels, which indicate good genes; masculine faces reflect these qualities," he added.

Source: University of Liverpool

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