TORONTO - Love that summer dress.
And those are cute sandals, by the way.
But you know it all screams ‘viable mother’, right?
Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management have found women dress more provocatively on days when they are most fertile.
The subconscious decisions of what to wear — and what to leave bare — isn’t entirely intended to attract a mate. Instead, the study, which will be published in the Journal of Consumer Research, found it’s likely an instinct to compete with other women.
Dr. Kristina Durante, who led the research, told QMI Agency that a change in hormones prompts women to out-primp nearby females.
“Across species, when a female is fertile they ... act to attract the best mate at that time,” she said.
“My thinking was there are products and services that are available to help women do that.”
The research has a real-world impact.
Durante, a social scientist, foresees certain stores syncing ad campaigns to a woman’s cycle.
“If you bought a sexy piece of clothing on a certain date, the store could be sending you material on similar clothes four weeks later,” she said.
Her team showed 18 to 27 year old women — during different times in their menstrual cycle — pictures of other women. They were then told to pick out outfits to buy.
Women who were ovulating, and shown snapshots of attractive females, picked clothing that emphasized their sex appeal. But if handed pictures of unattractive ladies or women who lived far away, they chose less alluring clothing.
Those subjects who were not ovulating didn’t change their shopping habits, no matter what pictures they were shown.
Durante says fertile women — without knowing it — evaluate and assess the wow-factor of potential rivals, and try to stay ahead of the competing curves.
While her team studied hundreds of younger women for their research, the 36-year-old scientist suspects similar responses would be found among older shoppers.
Last year, Durante released a study that argued beautiful women have higher than average levels of the fertility hormone, oestradiol. This, she concluded, causes them to flirt and consider infidelity more.
History is littered with broken coffee cups tossed at men who’ve suggested hormones impact the women around them. But Durante says there’s no denying fundamental chemical reactions still call many of the shots.