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Over the last decade, a growing literature has shown that women in the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle demonstrate stronger preferences for men with masculine traits than they do when in the non-fertile phases of the cycle (see Gangestad and Thornhill, 2008 and Jones et al., 2008 for recent reviews). In a recent article, Harris (in press; Sex Roles) failed to replicate this increase in women's preferences for masculine faces when women are near ovulation. Harris represented her study as one of only three studies on the topic, and as the largest of the existing studies. There are, however, many more studies on menstrual cycle shifts in preferences for facial masculinity in the published literature, including one that is 2.5 times larger in size than the Harris study. In this article, we review the evidence for cyclic shifts in mate preferences and related behaviors and discuss weaknesses of Harris's methods. Considered as a whole, the evidence for menstrual cycle shifts in women's preferences and behaviors is compelling, despite the failure of replication reported by Harris.


This article was originally published in Evolutionary Psychology, volume 8, issue 4, in 2009.


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