Hormones and social monitoring: Menstrual cycle shifts in progesterone underlie women's sensitivity to social information

Jon K. Maner*, Saul L. Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

During the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, women's bodies prepare themselves for possible pregnancy and this preparation includes a dramatic increase in progesterone. This increase in progesterone may underlie a variety of functionally relevant psychological changes designed to help women overcome challenges historically encountered during pregnancy (e.g., warding off social threats and recruiting allies). This paper reports data supporting the hypothesis that increases in progesterone during the luteal phase underlie heightened levels of social monitoring-that is, heightened sensitivity to social cues indicating the presence of social opportunity or threat. Increases in progesterone during the luteal phase were associated with increased accuracy in decoding facial expressions (Study 1) and increased attention to social stimuli (Study 2). Findings suggest that increases in progesterone during the luteal phase may be linked functionally with low-level perceptual attunements that help women effectively navigate their social world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Categorization
  • Hormones
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Progesterone
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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