The need for speed: The menstrual cycle and person construal.

L. Johnston, L. Arden, C Neil MacRae, R. Grace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Species survival relies on rapid and accurate categorization of the sex of potential mates. Macrae, Alnwick, Milne, and Schloerscheidt (2002) showed females to have enhanced sensitivity to reproductively relevant stimuli (male faces) but not to reproductively irrelevant stimuli (female faces) during periods of high fertility. Extending this research, the present study considered the efficiency of person construal in a series of additional comparison groups-specifically, men, pregnant women, and women on the contraceptive pill. Participants completed a person-categorization task twice, with a two week interval between testing sessions. For normally ovulating women, testing occurred during phases of high (i.e., ovulation) and low (i.e., menstruation) conception probability. The results confirmed that women with cyclical fluctuations in fertility were faster to categorize males, but not females, during periods of high than low conception probability. Women on the pill, however, were faster to categorize male than female faces at both testing sessions. Pregnant women and men displayed no reliable effects. The findings are considered in terms of adaptive person perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-100
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 2003



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