Shifts in women's mate preferences across the ovulatory cycle: a critique of Harris (2011) and Harris (2012)

Kelly Gildersleeve, Lisa DeBruine, Martie G. Haselton, David A. Frederick, Ian S. Penton-Voak, Benedict C. Jones, David I. Perrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Many studies have documented systematic shifts in women's mate preferences and sexual motivations across the ovulatory cycle. Harris (2012) presents a nonreplication of one particular finding in this literature-namely, that women's preference for masculinity in men's faces shifts across the cycle. Harris critiques the empirical and theoretical literature on cycle shifts and concludes that the cycle shift hypothesis should be abandoned. Here, we situate Harris's findings within the broader empirical literature and respond to several of the points in her critique. We conclude that the evidence for cycle shifts in women's mate preferences and sexual motivations is much stronger than Harris portrays and that she mischaracterizes the theoretical basis of this work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-524
Number of pages9
JournalSex Roles
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013


  • facial masculinity
  • mate preferences
  • menstrual cycle
  • ovulation
  • ovulatory cycle
  • sexual motivations

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