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Psychological science

Lady in Red: Hormonal Predictors of Women's Clothing Choices.


PMID 26158923

Abstract

Recent evidence supports the idea that women use red clothing as a courtship tactic, and results from one study further suggested that women were more likely to wear red on days of high fertility in their menstrual cycles. Subsequent studies provided mixed support for the cycle-phase effect, although all such studies relied on counting methods of cycle-phase estimation and used between-subjects designs. By comparison, in the study reported here, we employed frequent hormone sampling to more accurately assess ovulatory timing and used a within-subjects design. We found that women were more likely to wear red during the fertile window than on other cycle days. Furthermore, within-subjects fluctuations in the ratio of estradiol to progesterone statistically mediated the within-subjects shifts in red-clothing choices. Our results appear to represent the first direct demonstration of specific hormone measurements predicting observable changes in women's courtship-related behaviors. We also demonstrate the advantages of hormonal determination of ovulatory timing for tests of cycle-phase shifts in psychology or behavior.