(NaturalNews) Ovulation-related changes in hormone levels may actually produce changes in women's shopping habits, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Minnesota and published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
The researchers showed 100 women pictures of attractive women living either nearby or far away, then asked the participants to pick out clothes and accessories that they would like to buy. They found that among women who were ovulating, being shown pictures of attractive local women led to a preference for clingier, "sexier" clothing.
The researchers believe that women respond to perceived competition from other women by trying to make themselves more appealing to men.
"The desire for women at peak fertility to unconsciously choose products that enhance appearance is driven by a desire to outdo attractive rival women," lead researcher Kristina Durante said. "If you look more desirable than your competition, you are more likely to stand out."
The findings show that not only that ovulation can affect behavior, but that it does so in a highly situational way.
"In order to entice a desirable mate, a woman needs to assess the attractiveness of other women in her local environment to determine how eye-catching she needs to be to snare a good man," Durante said.
"What this study in part reveals is that people are only semi-conscious of the underlying reasons behind the choices they make in the context of buying sexy clothes," said psychotherapist George Fieldman, who was not involved in the study.
Of course, the idea that behavior is affected by the natural hormone changes at different parts of a woman's fertility cycle is not new. The difference is that the new study portrays such changes as adaptive, while popular culture portrays menstruation-related mood changes as a disorder.
"Fluctuating levels of hormones can effect mood, behavior, and physical changes," writes Earl Mindell in Earl Mindell's Secret Remedies.
"This doesn't mean that natural changes that occur in women's bodies during menstruation should be treated as an illness; PMS is best viewed as a collection of symptoms that can be relieved through diet, exercise, nutritional supplements [and] herbs."