Basic Instinct - Fertile women prefer manly men

If some women are ready to fall for the hairy security officer in the office, it’s probably because they are at their fertile most. A woman prefers a more masculine man when she is fertile and looking for a fling rather than a mate for life, according to a new study.

The finding suggests the value that women place on masculinity changes with context and with women’s reproductive cycles and immediate goals. A woman’s preference for manly men also was found to vary based on how attractive she rated herself. And some of a woman’s sex drive might involve tricks in the brain over which she has no control.

Previous research has shown that women view facial masculinity — square jaws and well-defined brow ridges — as good characteristics for short-term partners, while more feminine traits are perceived as better for long-term mates. Another study found that women smell better to men at certain points in their menstrual cycles.

In the new study, reported by Live-Science, researchers asked women who were at different points in their menstrual cycles (and who were not on the pill) to rate their own attractiveness. Then researchers presented them with image pairs representing “feminised” and “masculinised” versions of the same male body. The women were asked to choose the body they thought was most attractive for a short-term relationship and then again for a long-term relationship.

Some of the women performed the experiment again at the opposite point in their cycle. Fertile women chose the masculine version of each image 15% more often, on average, than women who were not fertile, said lead researcher Anthony Little, a psychologist at the University of Stirling in Scotland.

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