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Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of Graduate Psychology
Daniel D. Holt
Humans are capable of detecting subtle fertility indicators that change across women’s menstrual cycle. One such indicator is the voice, which may change over the course of the menstrual cycle and provide fertility cues to listeners. Such cues provide an obvious advantage to men selecting mates, however research suggests that women can also detect these cues. Women may monitor the fertility of others to more effectively adjust their own mating strategies. By monitoring women’s skin conductance, cortisol, and testosterone responses to hearing high- and low-fertility female voices, the current study further investigated whether vocal cues of fertility may physiologically prime intrasexual competition. Researchers assessed attractiveness ratings of the voices recorded at high- and low- fertility to further support perceptual differences between voices of women at differing levels of fertility. These responses were examined as a function of the fertility status of the listener by conducting identical trials with women both when they were at high- and low-fertility. Although women did not exhibit a rise in cortisol, and skin conductance did not differ in response to voices of high- and low- fertility, women did find high-fertility voices more attractive, and their testosterone levels rose following exposure to stimuli. Our findings also suggest that women may be more attune to fertility cues when they are at high-fertility themselves. These reactions are discussed in light of how they may affect mating strategies and behavior following fertility cue exposure.
Ostrander, Grant, "The impact of fertility cues on intrasexual competition and threat perception" (2017). Masters Theses. 512.