Evolution and relationship maintenance: Fertility cues lead committed men to devalue relationship alternatives

Saul L. Miller*, Jon K. Maner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


An evolutionary perspective provides a conceptual framework with which to study adaptive processes that facilitate the maintenance of long-term relationships. One common relationship threat people face involves exposure to tempting relationship alternatives. Desirable relationship alternatives can threaten people's relationship commitment and, consequently, evoke relationship maintenance processes designed to protect people's relationship esteem. The current research examined whether cues of female ovulation-an important reproductive variable-evokes relationship maintenance processes in committed men. Men rated the attractiveness of a normally cycling relationship alternative at various points in her menstrual cycle. Unlike single men, who rated the woman as especially attractive when she was highly fertile, committed men exhibited the opposite pattern, rating her as less attractive during her period of peak fertility. This research illustrates the utility of integrating theories of relationship maintenance with evolutionary psychological theories of mating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1081-1084
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Attraction
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Ovulation
  • Relationship maintenance
  • Romantic relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolution and relationship maintenance: Fertility cues lead committed men to devalue relationship alternatives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this