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Media Memo: Research Receiving National Attention

TO: News and Assignment Editors

FROM: Judy Berthiaume

DATE: Oct. 11, 2006

SUBJECT: Research Receiving National Attention

 

Women who are ovulating tend to pay more attention to their appearance, perhaps in a subliminal effort to attract a mate, according to researchers at UW-Eau Claire and UCLA.

April Bleske-Rechek, an assistant professor of psychology at UW-Eau Claire, and Martie Haselton from UCLA, had their research findings published in Hormones and Behavior.

In the study, normally cycling women (no contraceptives) from the UCLA campus came to the lab. One session was a high-fertile session (when conception risk is as high as 40 percent), and one was a low-fertile session. At each of these two sessions, the participant's photo was taken. Women were given a clever cover story and had no idea fertility status was of interest. Ovulatory status was confirmed via urine tests.

Judges from the UW-Eau Claire campus were presented with each woman's photographs side-by-side, and were asked for each woman, "In which photograph is the woman trying to look more attractive?" The judges selected the fertile photo 60 percent of the time, well over chance.

The closer the female's high-fertility picture was to the day of ovulation, the more frequently that picture was chosen over the low-fertility photo. Women's clothing patterns coincided with the basic finding that when fertile, women are dressed to impress: they wore more accessories, wore more fashionable skirts and tanks.

Bleske-Rechek says the research supports a strong line of previous research suggesting that women experience a whole set of changes when in the fertile phase of their cycle, including stronger feelings of sexiness, stronger desire to flirt with and meet men, and stronger feelings of attraction toward men outside their primary relationship.

The research has received attention from news media throughout the country since it was published earlier this week.

Dr. April Bleske-Rechek can be reached by e-mail at bleskeal@uwec.edu or phone 715-831-6352.

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