Shifts in Methodology and Theory in Menstrual Cycle Research on Attraction
This paper critically examines the hypothesis that different phases of the menstrual cycle induce changes in women’s mate preferences. Empirically, we show that literature on this topic may be particularly prone to experimenter degrees of freedom, in which experimenters increase their likelihood of finding significant effects through elasticity in methodological and analytical strategies (e.g., flexibility in calculation of fertile and nonfertile phases, exclusion criteria, moderators, and analysis of dependent variables). Theoretically, we address misconceptions presented by Gildersleeve and colleagues (2013a). We reveal inconsistencies in the theoretical foundation for this work and discuss tension between theory and data. In short, there is sound reason to question whether reported menstrual cycle effects in women’s mate preferences are indeed real.