When Most Fertile, Women Often Prefer Low-Stress Men

Ok Corral, Tombstone, ArizonaIf you’re looking for a husband and imagine children in your future, you may be a woman who prefers ‘chill’ guys.

Science has assumed that from an evolutionary perspective, women prefer high-testosterone men. Presumably more testosterone equals higher-quality sperm and a greater income-earning capacity.

Stronger, Marlboro Man guys are better able to survive a shoot out at the Ok Corral, protecting us little women when we are most vulnerable and in a family way.

Fast forward to the modern age, when we know a bit more about high testosterone men. The truth is that they aren’t necessarily the best parents, and may lead a “player’s” lifestyle.

Human behavioral ecologist Fhionna Moore at the University of Abertay Dundee in Scotland and her colleagues launched a scientific study of women’s preferences in men, with a particular interest in lower-cortisol guys, or ‘chill guys’ as LiveScience calls them.

Might women unconsciously know that being around stressed-out, hard-driving men can suppress a woman’s immune system and subsequently her reproductive capacity and fertility. Might women unconsciously consider that high-cortisol men could damage her own health?

To answer her question, Moore created composite faces from four groups of 39 men: high-testosterone and high-cortisol; high-testosterone and low-cortisol; low-testosterone and high-cortisol; low-testosterone and low-cortisol.

43 heterosexual women looked at the composites at different phases in their menstrual cycle. When most likely to get pregnant, the women chose low-cortisol guys.

Dr Moore said about the preferences for low-cortisol men: “An ability to handle stressful situations suggests a strong genetic make-up and the ability to pass ‘good genes’ to their children.” via BBC News

High testosterone, high cortisol guys may be good providers income-wise, but researchers are now considering the evolutionary possibility that at least 21st century women have a changing set of priorities in what they seek in a long-term partner and father of their children.