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Study Says Ovulation Motivates Women to Outdo Other Women

women fightingA recent paper, Money, Status, and the Ovulation Cycle, published in Journal of Marketing Research this February finds that women during the ovulation cycle subconsciously hope to outdo other women. This results could have significant implications for researchers, marketers and consumers.

The researchers performed three studies, one of which asked ovulating and non-ovulating women to play the “dictator game”. This popular economic experiment mainly investigates if a person would share some money with others when given a fixed amount of money.

 “We found that ovulating women were less likely to share the money when the other person was a woman. They became meaner to their kind,” said Kristina Durante, lead author of the study and assistant professor of marketing in the UTSA College of Business.

On the contrary, non-ovulating females were willing to share nearly 50 percent of their money with another female, whereas ovulating females only shared half as much, keeping the rest for themselves.

In another study, the participants made product choices that can either maximize their individual gains or maximize their gains relative to other women. For instance, a woman can choose from having a $25,000 car while the other had a $40,000 car (Option A), or she can opt to get a $20,000 car while the other woman got a $12,000 car (Option B). This study revealed that ovulating women preferred Option B—selecting products that would provide them with higher standing compared with the other women.

The co-author of the study, Vladas Griskevicius, an associate professor of marketing at the University Of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, said: “What is interesting about the results is that ovulating women are very much concerned about their relative position in a group of women and they are even willing to take less for themselves just to outdo other women.”

However, the studies also found that ovulation does not always make women want more status. When a woman played against a man instead of a woman in the dictator game, the scientists discovered an even more surprising result. Although the ovulating women were meaner to other women, they became nicer to men—ovulating women would like to share 60 percent of their money to the man, while non-ovulating women only shared nearly 45 percent.

Durante noted: “The results had never been observed in previous dictator game. You just don’t see people sharing more than half of the money. One possible reason is that we are seeing ovulating women give away more money as a way to flirt with the man.”

Durante and Griskevicius’s previous studies showed how the ovulatory cycle could alter women’s preferences for clothing, food, partners and even politics. Based on research rooted in evolutionary biology and evolutionary consumer behavior, their new findings that ovulating females jockey for higher position over other women corresponds with the literatures on animals. For instance, there were studies showing that when females monkeys fertile, they become more aggressive towards other females.

According to the results of the study, marketers might want to emphasize the superiority of a given product in advertising, messages and promotions to female consumers.

Source: ScienceDaily

Image source: shutterstock