New mums experience a change in their taste of men

December 23, 2014 by David Christie
New mums experience a change in their taste of men
A new dad holds his baby's hand

New mothers' taste in men changes after giving birth, according to research from the University of Stirling.

Psychologist Dr Kelly Cobey discovered women experience a short-term change in their taste in during the weeks following giving birth, known as the post-partum period, with their preference shifting towards less masculine-looking men.

Dr Cobey, from Stirling's School of Natural Sciences said: "Previous research has already shown that natural hormonal variation subtly alters women's social perception and preferences.

"Our findings show that pregnancy and the post-partum period – stages of natural yet relatively extreme hormonal variation – are also linked to these altered preferences with women experiencing a reduction in their preference for masculine male faces.

"We know from previous studies that low levels of masculinity in men are associated with greater paternal qualities and better infant care. It may therefore be new mums are more attracted to men who show physical cues they could offer the best , rather than those who are most physically attractive."

Dr Cobey and her colleagues Dr Tony Little and Dr Craig Roberts sampled more than 100 women, studying their evaluation of masculinity and femininity in men's and women's faces during pregnancy and in the six weeks after.

Whilst women moved away from masculine male faces, their preference for femininity in women's faces remained unchanged.

Dr Cobey added: "Interest in attractive men and sex are obviously impacted by social and physical factors in the post-partum period, but our research provides evidence that some of the variance in at this time could be explained by changes in social perception.

"This may help to provide an explanation for changes in women's attraction to their partner, or general shifts in sexual desire, across reproductive life events like pregnancy."

The Behaviour and Evolution Research Group within Stirling's Division of Psychology is renowned for its research on the influences of facial attractiveness on human mate choice and the role of hormonal changes on and preferences.

In the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, Stirling's Psychology Division was ranked 3rd in Scotland, with 100% of research Impact being rated as world-leading.

The full findings of this study are published in the journal Biological Psychology.

Explore further: Size matters: Men perceived as more masculine if they are taller and heavier, regardless face shape

More information: Kelly D. Cobey, Anthony C. Little, S. Craig Roberts, "Hormonal effects on women's facial masculinity preferences: The influence of pregnancy, post-partum, and hormonal contraceptive use," Biological Psychology, Volume 104, January 2015, Pages 35-40, ISSN 0301-0511, dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2014.11.002.

Related Stories

Size matters: Men perceived as more masculine if they are taller and heavier, regardless face shape

November 27, 2014
Researchers at the University of St Andrews have found that men are perceived as more masculine if they appear taller and heavier, regardless of how much their face shape differs from women's, in a new study published this ...

Men's violent reactions to women's rejection

December 4, 2014
University of Queensland researchers have found evidence to suggest that men who react adversely to romantic rejection and act violently towards women are more likely to be socially dominant.

Relationship satisfaction linked with changing use of contraception

May 14, 2014
Women's sexual satisfaction in long-term heterosexual relationships may be influenced by changes in hormonal contraceptive use, research from the University of Stirling shows.

The ideal age of sexual partners is different for men and women

September 25, 2014
New evolutionary psychology research shows gender differences in age preferences regarding sexual partners.

A woman's face drives relationship length: study

June 21, 2013
Men looking for a quick fling prefer women with more "feminine" facial features, said a study Friday that delved into the evolutionary determinants of the mating game.

Recommended for you

How the shape and size of your face relates to your sexuality

September 19, 2017
Men and women with shorter, wider faces tend to be more sexually motivated and to have a stronger sex drive than those with faces of other dimensions. These are the findings from a study led by Steven Arnocky of Nipissing ...

Behavioral therapy increases connectivity in brains of people with OCD

September 19, 2017
UCLA researchers report that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, when treated with a special form of talk therapy, demonstrate distinct changes in their brains as well as improvement in their symptoms.

Cognitive scientists find that people can more easily communicate warmer colors than cool ones

September 18, 2017
The human eye can perceive millions of different colors, but the number of categories human languages use to group those colors is much smaller. Some languages use as few as three color categories (words corresponding to ...

Why bad sleep doesn't always lead to depression

September 18, 2017
Poor sleep is both a risk factor, and a common symptom, of depression. But not everyone who tosses and turns at night becomes depressed.

Happiness is not determined by childhood biomarkers

September 18, 2017
Happiness is not determined by childhood biological markers such as height or body fat, according to a team of European researchers involving UCL.

People with schizophrenia have threefold risk of dying

September 18, 2017
People with schizophrenia are three times more likely to die, and die younger, than the general population, indicating a need for solutions to narrow this gap, according to research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

RobertKarlStonjek
not rated yet Dec 24, 2014
In practice women do not change partners after giving birth. However they are more likely to shift focus from their partners masculine qualities to his parenting abilities, whether these are visual or, more likely, behavioural.

Women are also going to encourage the expression of these qualities in their partner.

Visual cues play a part in mating behaviour, especially upon first meeting, but behavioural cues are just as important. Although some people do judge only in a narrow one dimensional manner, most people, during courtship, see the unseen side of the partner and will place some weight on that as well. In many cases, especially for those with educated minds, the unseen outweighs the superficial aspects and it is upon these that judgements will be made.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.