Ovulation, Sex Hormones, and Women's Mating Psychology

Trends Cogn Sci. 2019 Jan;23(1):51-62. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2018.10.008. Epub 2018 Nov 24.


The dual mating strategy hypothesis proposes that women's preferences for uncommitted sexual relationships with men displaying putative fitness cues increase during the high-fertility phase of the menstrual cycle. Results consistent with this hypothesis are widely cited as evidence that sexual selection has shaped human mating psychology. However, the methods used in most of these studies have recently been extensively criticized. Here we discuss (i) new empirical studies that address these methodological problems and largely report null results and (ii) an alternative model of hormonal regulation of women's mating psychology that can better accommodate these new data.

Keywords: attractiveness; mate preferences; mating; menstrual cycle; person perception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Psychological
  • Ovulation / physiology*
  • Ovulation / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones