Researchers at UTSA say women's monthly ovulation cycle alters their economic behavior and makes them more focused on 'social standing relative to other women.'
Kristina Durante, a marketing professor at UTSA and the lead author of the study, says the ovulation cycle "unconsciously changes a woman's behavior by subconsciously motivating them to outdo other women." She says this research could be a gold mine for marketers.
"They are particularly concerned about what sort of products they have compared to other women," Durante told 1200 WOAI news. "If advertisers and marketers can really highlight the 'edge up' that their products give women in relation to their peers, to help make them superior to other women, that would really help move their products."
The research, which was done in conjunction with the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, is published in the Journal of Marketing Research, and is titled 'Money, Status and the Ovulatory Cycle.'
Durante says ovulating and non ovulating women participated in a common economic experiment called 'The Dictator Game,' in which a person is given a fixed amount of money and given opportunities to share that money with others.
She says when a woman is ovulating she will share far less of her money with other women. The same woman would share half of her money with other women during normal times, both only a third of her money when she is ovulating.
Durante says, interestingly, the opposite is true with men.
"While ovulating women became meaner to other women, they became nicer to men," she said. "Non ovulating women shared about 45 percent with a man, while ovulating women gave 60 percent of the money to a man."
She says participants in 'The Dictator Game' are seldom seen giving away more than half of their money under any circumstances.
She suspects this subconscious behavior is a genetic throwback to pre-historic times when women were forced to compete for a limited supply of possible mates.
"When women are ovulating and estrogen is high this is the time that they can become pregnant," she said. "So they are thinking a lot about positioning themselves in such a way as they gain status to gain the attention of a mate."
Durante says ovulating woman don't 'go crazy' and spend large amounts of money, they just want to spend enough to 'stay ahead of Jane.'
"They are willing to forego a nicer house or piece of jewelry, as long as they have relatively more than other women."
In addition to shining a light on women's economic behavior, Durante says her research also answers the big question that men have had about their wives and girlfriends since the dawn of civilization: why in the world do you need so many purses and pairs of shoes?
"It's a show of status. All the handbags and the shoes are not at all meant to impress you, the man, they are meant to impress other women."