Male Rivalry Increases when Females at Most Fertile, Say Researchers

Apr 24, 2006

Men become more jealous of dominant males when their female partner is near ovulation, researchers at the University of Liverpool have found.

Previous studies have found that women’s preferences for male physical appearance vary according to their fertility status. During ovulation women tend to find masculine looking men more attractive and prefer their voices and odour. During this fertile phase women are more likely to have an affair with a masculine-looking man, as their features are linked to high testosterone levels, demonstrating good genetic qualities that can be passed on to offspring.

New research at the University has found that men sense this preference shift in their female partners and find masculine men more threatening during their partner’s most fertile phase. Rob Burriss and Dr Anthony Little, from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, also found that men only behave in this way if their female partner does not use oral contraception – and is therefore more fertile.

Images of male faces that were either high or low in dominant features, such as a strong jaw lines and thinner lips, were shown to male participants who provided ratings of dominance for each image. A dominant person was defined as someone who looked like they could ‘get what they wanted’.

Participants were asked to provide information on whether or not their female partner used oral contraception and the date of her current or previous menses. Male participants whose partners did not use oral contraception and were near ovulation rated masculine faces more dominant than those participants with partners who did use oral contraception and were not near ovulation.

Rob Burriss, from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, explains: “'Groups of animals, such as chimpanzees, can live quite happily together, but when a female is ready to mate the two dominant males within the group become rivals and fight for her attention. Similarly in humans, rated dominance increases when the female is most fertile. What is interesting here is that male behaviour is determined by that of the females; men become more wary of masculine-looking men only when the females facial preferences begin to shift prior to ovulation.

“Face shape and structure are good indicators of dominance. Men with large eyes, rounded chin and full lips, are viewed as more feminine and are chosen as long-term partners. They are not, however, seen as dominant. During the female’s most fertile phase, she tends to prefer faces that indicate high testosterone levels, which indicate good genes; masculine faces reflect these qualities.”

Source: University of Liverpool

Explore further: New 'Surveyman' software promises to revolutionize survey design and accuracy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nokia turnaround since handset unit sale continues

1 hour ago

Nokia appears to have turned around its fortunes after the sale of its ailing cellphone unit to Microsoft, reporting a third-quarter net profit of 747 million euros ($950 million), from a loss of 91 million euros a year earlier. ...

Yahoo CEO defends strategy in face of criticism

1 hour ago

Signaling her reign has reached a pivotal juncture, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is trying to convince restless shareholders that the long-struggling Internet company is heading in the right direction.

Sk Hynix logs all-time high Q3 earnings

1 hour ago

SK Hynix, the world's second-largest memory chip maker, reported Thursday a record high quarterly net profit for the three months to September on strong sales and currency earnings.

Apple computer sells for record $905K in NY

1 hour ago

One of the first Apple computers ever built has sold in New York for $905,000, leading Bonhams auction house to declare it the world's most expensive computer relic.

Recommended for you

Russia turns back clocks to permanent Winter Time

14 hours ago

Russia on Sunday is set to turn back its clocks to winter time permanently in a move backed by President Vladimir Putin, reversing a three-year experiment with non-stop summer time that proved highly unpopular.

Remains of French ship being reassembled in Texas

Oct 24, 2014

A frigate carrying French colonists to the New World that sank in a storm off the Texas coast more than 300 years ago is being reassembled into a display that archeologists hope will let people walk over ...

User comments : 0