AUSTIN, Texas — Women with high levels of the sex hormone oestradiol may engage in opportunistic mating, according to a new study by psychology researchers at The University of Texas at Austin.
Doctoral candidate Kristina Durante and Assistant Professor of Psychology Norm Li published their findings in the article "Oestradiol Level and Opportunistic Mating in Women" in the Jan. 13 issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biology Letters.
"The study offers further evidence that physiological mechanisms continue to play a major role in guiding women's sexual motivations and behavior," Durante said.
Durante and Li investigated the relationship between oestradiol, an ovarian hormone linked to fertility, and sexual motivation in a study of 52 female undergraduates not using contraception. Participants' ages ranged from 17 to 30 years old.
The researchers measured the participants' hormone levels at two points during each woman's ovulatory cycle and then asked them to rate their own physical attractiveness. Independent observers also rated the participants' physical attractiveness.
Participants also answered survey questions that measured their propensity to cheat on a partner.
The researchers found that a woman's oestradiol level was positively associated with self-perceived physical attractiveness. Women with a higher oestradiol level also reported a greater likelihood of flirting, kissing and having a serious affair (but not a one-night stand) with a new partner.
Oestradiol levels were negatively associated with a woman's satisfaction with her primary partner.
"Our findings show that highly fertile women are not easily satisfied by their long-term partners and are motivated to seek out more desirable partners," Durante explained. "However, that doesn't mean they're more likely to engage in casual sex. Instead, they adopt a strategy of serial monogamy."
I wonder how much of the serial monogamy is due to finding a better partner versus just feeling the need to find a different partner. Do the guys these women move on to score better in objective measures of physical attractiveness, wealth, or other factors?
How many of those dissatisfied women torment their partners before dumping them? Maybe a guy needs to know his girlfriend's hormone levels and an objective comparison of his and her level of attractiveness so that he can assess the odds of the relationship lasting.
Are you going to get traded in for a different model? Blame it on a hormone.
"These women are willing to trade up when the opportunity arises and continue to extract these lucrative resources from men when they can," says Kristina Durante, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Texas in Austin, who led the study. She thinks the behaviour could be an adaptation to the high costs of giving birth.
"For women it's all about the resources that we need. If you're going to be getting knocked up there's a significant cost," she says.
So then did Angelina Jolie finally decide that Brad Pitt was as attractive as she could find? Or will her hormones eventually cause her to move on? She's aging so if she moves on she's probably making a mistake.
She said her results are consistent with the possibility highly fertile women are not easily satisfied by their long-term partners and are especially motivated to become acquainted with other, presumably more desirable, men.
However, such motivations do not seem to stem from a greater interest in casual sex, she added.
"The prettier you are, the more fertile you are," said lead author Kristina Durante, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas. And the more fertile, the more options — and urges — for mates, she said.
Don't believe her? See my posts Women With Hourglass Bodies Have More Reproductive Hormones and Women With Higher Estrogen Seen As More Attractive.
Update: Anyone have access to the full paper? My question: Adjusted for attractiveness do women with higher hormone level have more relationships? To put it another way: Is it the higher attractiveness's enabling of more relationships or greater motivation to have more relationships that causes this difference in outcome? I see from one news report that the researchers used observers to rate the attractiveness of their subjects and so the researchers should have been able to puzzle out whether motive or opportunity played a bigger role in causing the serial monogamy.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2009 January 18 06:51 PM Brain Sexuality|