According to new research, ovulation alters women's behaviour on a subconscious level, prompting them to focus more on social standing in comparison to other females.
Researchers from the The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management conducted three studies, one of which featured the popular "dictator game experiment." Fifty-eight ovulating and non-ovulating women were each given a set amount of money, which they could share with another if desired. Non-ovulating women shared about 50 per cent of their money with others, while ovulating women shared about 25 per cent of funds and kept the rest.
"We found that ovulating women were much less willing to share when the other person was another woman. They became meaner to other women," said Kristina Durante, assistant professor of marketing at the UTSA College of Business and lead study author.
In another experiment, 309 women were asked to choose between "Option A" -- to have a $25,000 car while other women received $40,000 cars -- and "Option B" -- a $20,000 car while the other women received $12,000 cars. Ovulating women preferred "Option B," which provided "higher social standing" compared to the others.
"What's interesting about this finding is that ovulating women are so concerned about their relative position that they are willing to take less for themselves just so that they could outdo other women," said study coauthor Vladas Griskevicius, associate professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.
Ovulating women had different reactions when playing the same games against men. While ovulation seemed to make women meaner to one another, it resulted in "nicer" behaviour towards men.
"These findings are unlike anything we have ever seen in the dictator game. You just don't see people giving away more than half of their money," noted Durante. "One possibility is that we're seeing ovulating women share more money as a way to flirt with the men."
The results, entitled "Money, Status, and the Ovulatory Cycle," were published in the February issue of Journal of Marketing Research. It builds on previous studies from Durante and colleagues, including the role of ovulation in consumer choices and behaviour towards men. Such studies found that ovulation subconsciously encourages women to choose "sexier" outfits in hopes of outdoing other attractive women, and to flirt more heavily, especially with men who have assorted genetic fitness markers.