Menstrual cycle, trait estrogen level, and masculinity preferences in the human voice
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Men with low testosterone (feminine men) invest in relationships and offspring more than men with high testosterone (masculine men). Women’s attraction to testosterone dependent traits (e.g. masculine face shape) is enhanced during the late-follicular, fertile phase of the menstrual cycle. Attractive, feminine women have stronger preferences for masculine men as possible long-term partners than less attractive, masculine women. We manipulated 2 testosterone related vocal traits (voice pitch and apparent vocal-tract length) in voices to test if women prefer masculinized men’s voices to feminized men’s voices; masculinity preferences are enhanced at the fertile (late-follicular) menstrual cycle phase; the amount that masculinity preferences shift cyclically relates to average estrone-3-glucuronide concentration (the primary urinary metabolite of estrone, E3G). We found women displayed general masculinity preferences for men’s voices; masculinity preferences were greater in the fertile (late-follicular) phase of the cycle than the non-fertile (early-follicular and luteal) phase; and this effect was most pronounced for women with low average E3G concentration. As feminine women (i.e. those with high average E3G levels) are most able to obtain investment even from masculine men, these women may not need to change their mating preference or strategy during the menstrual cycle as much as masculine women.