Sounding Hot? Experimental Research on Verbal Proficiency as a Menstrual Cycle-Dependent Female Mate Choice Criterion

Benjamin P. Lange, Sascha Schwarz, Eugen Zaretsky, Harald A. Euler


Female fertility, which changes across the menstrual cycle, as an important factor in human mate choice has been in the scope of evolutionary psychological research for some time now. Many studies report effects of fertility on the female perception of many different mate choice-relevant traits, especially in short-term mating. One trait not studied so far from this perspective is verbal proficiency, a trait closely related to creativity and thus possibly a potential indicator of good genes. Using an experimental design, we tested whether high male verbal proficiency is more preferred by fertile than by non-fertile women. Three audio files were used as stimuli in which a male actor performed scripted verbal self-presentations. The script content was the same in each presentation but was delivered with three levels of verbal proficiency with respect to lexical, grammatical, and speech fluency features. Fertile and non-fertile women (N = 305) had to rate one randomly selected audio file for short-term and long-term attractiveness. An effect on short-term attractiveness was found, but not on long-term attractiveness. Contrary to the expectation, non-fertile women rated men with the highest verbal proficiency as more attractive as a short-term mate than high-fertile women. Verbal proficiency may be an indicator of resources (e.g., via income) that can be provided in long-term mating rather than an indicator of good genes in short-term mating.

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Published by Eurasia Academic Publishers