Sexual conflict and the ovulatory cycle

Benedict C. Jones, Lisa M. DeBruine, Anthony C. Little, David R. Feinberg

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


The optimal sexual strategies for men and women are strikingly different and frequently in direct conflict. This conflict may have driven the evolution of behaviors that counter the other sex's optimal strategy. Because women's sexual strategies vary according to their ovulatory status, it may be beneficial for men's counterstrategies to also be sensitive to cues of women's ovulatory status. This chapter reviews empirical evidence that women's sexual behavior and preferences for masculine men change systematically during the menstrual cycle and that men possess adaptations that may have evolved to counter these cyclic shifts in women's mate preferences. We also discuss the empirical evidence for cues of women's ovulatory status that might act as triggers for these counterstrategies and the possibility that women might alter their behavior to minimize the effectiveness of such triggers. Collectively, these findings highlight the possibility that the conditional nature of women's sexual strategies can drive equally complex counterstrategies in men.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Sexual Conflict in Humans
EditorsT. K. Shackleford, A. T. Goetz
Place of PublicationOxford, U. K.
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780199940653
ISBN (Print)9780195396706
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2012


  • Attractiveness
  • Faces
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Trade-off
  • Voices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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