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Every month for one week, millions of women change their economic behaviour and become more focused on their social standing relative to other women.
New research recently published by the University of Texas and the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management found that the ovulatory cycle makes women behave in a competitive manner which could have important implications for consumers, retailers and researchers.
The researchers conducted three studies in which ovulating and non-ovulating women played the “dictator game”, whereby a woman was given a fixed amount of money that she could share with another person.
They found that ovulating women were much less willing to share when the other person was a woman, sharing only 24% of the money and keeping the rest for themselves, whereas the non-ovulation women gave away 50% of the money and kept 50% for themselves.
Surprisingly, when the other person was a man, the ovulating women gave away 60% of their money so became nicer, whereas the non-ovulation women gave away 45% of their money. One possibility for this may be the ovulating women were flirting with the men due to their increased hormonal levels.
In another study, women made product choices which either increased their individual gains or their relative gains compared to other women.
They were given the choice of having a $25,000 car while other women got a $40,000 car or have a $20,000 car while other women got a $12,000. The study found that more ovulating women chose the second option even though they would get a cheaper car. Ovulating women are more concerned about their relative position that they are willing to take less for themselves so they can outdo other women.
Many studies have shown that fluctuation in female hormonal levels alter preferences for romantic partners, clothing, food and even politics.
These findings could be useful to advertising companies to enable them to emphasize the superiority of a certain product by the way in which they advertise, promote and market that product to female consumers.