When women are ovulating they tend to buy sexier clothing to outdo rival females rather than to impress males, according to a study from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. The researchers reveal that ovulating women dress to impress during those few days each month when they are ovulating.
What is ovulation? It is when the woman's egg is ripe and is released from the ovary; it is released when the follicle (the cavity surrounding it) breaks open in response to a hormonal signal. Ovulation usually happens about 14 to 15 days after the first day of a woman's menstrual period. A female is most fertile when she is ovulating.
Team leader, Kristina Durante, a post-doctoral fellow at the Carlson School, said:
The desire for women at peak fertility to unconsciously choose products that enhance appearance is driven by a desire to outdo attractive rival women. If you look more desirable than your competition, you are more likely to stand out.
The study will be published in the next issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.
This is one of very few studies that examines the influence of hormonal factors on purchasing behaviors. Dr. Durante and team focused their predictions on the fact that competition for a suitable mate would be affected by a woman's fertility status.
We found that, when ovulating, women chose sexier fashion products when thinking about other attractive, local but not distant women. If you are in New York, a woman who lives in LA isn't going to be seen as competition.
Even though the ultimate result is to attract the best partner around, the study found that ovulating females' selection of clothing is driven by how they see other women in their environment; how other women around them are turned out.
In order to entice a desirable mate, a woman needs to assess the attractiveness of other women in her local environment to determine how eye-catching she needs to be to snare a good man.
In their study, the researchers asked ovulating females to look at pictures of:
- Attractive women who lived locally
- Unattractive women who lived locally
- Attractive women who lived over 1,000 miles away
The ovulating females who had seen the photographs of attractive women who lived locally chose much sexier items, compared to those who saw the other pictures.
The authors write that this change in consumer choice is not a conscious decision.
Non-ovulating women were given the same test, and they were found not to be subject to the same effect in the consumer behavior.
For about five to six days every month, normally ovulating women - constituting over a billion consumers--may be especially likely to purchase products and services that enhance physical appearance.
Such products include not only clothing, shoes, and fashion accessories, but also cosmetics, health supplements, fitness products, medical procedures, and more.
"Ovulation, Female Competition, and Product Choice: Hormonal Influences on Consumer Behavior"
Kristina Durante, Vladas Griskevicius, Sarah E. Hill, Carin Perilloux, Norman Li
Journal of Consumer Research
Source: Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota
Written by: Christian Nordqvist