Over the past ten years or so, evolutionary psychologists have uncovered a very broad range of phenomena that are intimately shaped by women's menstrual cycles including their preferences for particular male facial features, their desire to have sex, and their food-related behaviors (e.g., craving for calories). In a future post, I will discuss a project that I've conducted with my doctoral student Eric Stenstrom wherein we've explored the links between consumption and the menstrual cycle.
In today's post, I'd like to discuss an intriguing 2008 study conducted by Meghan P. Provost, Vernon L. Quinsey, and Nikolaus F. Troje and published in Archives of Sexual Behavior wherein they investigated how a woman's gait changes across her menstrual cycle and how that impacts men's attractiveness ratings (of the various gaits). Prior to having read the article, my hypothesis was that in the fertile phase of a woman's menstrual cycle, she would be more likely to have an attractive gait (e.g., greater swinging of the hips) as a means of maximizing the likelihood of attracting attention. This is similar in spirit to the finding that women are more likely to beautify themselves (e.g., wear sexy clothes; cf. Haselton et al., 2007) when maximally fertile, and to another recent study published in Evolution and Human Behavior and coauthored by Geoffrey Miller, Joshua M. Tybur, and Brent D. Jordan that showed that strippers receive greater tips during the fertile phase of their menstrual cycles (perhaps in part due to more solicitous and enticing dancing during the ovulatory phase). As you'll see below, the findings were contrary to the latter hypothesis.