Attractive men induce testosterone and cortisol release in women

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Abstract

Recently, Roney et al. (Roney, J.R., Lukaszewski, A.W., Simmons, Z.L., 2007. Rapid endocrine responses of young men to social interactions with young women. Horm. Behav. 52, 326-33; Roney, J.R., Mahler, S.V., Maestripieri, D., 2003. Behavioral and hormonal responses of men to brief interactions with women. Evol. Hum. Behav. 24, 365-375) demonstrated that men release testosterone and cortisol in response to brief social interactions with young women. The current experiment examined whether women show a similar endocrine response to physically and behaviorally attractive men. 120 women (70 naturally-cycling and 50 using hormonal contraceptives) were shown one of four 20-minute video montages extracted from popular films, depicting the following scenarios: 1) an attractive man courting a young woman (experimental stimulus), 2) a nature documentary (video clip control), 3) an unattractive older man courting a woman (male control), and 4) an attractive woman with no men present (female control). Saliva samples were taken before and after presentation of the stimulus, and were later analyzed for testosterone and cortisol content via enzyme immunoassay. Naturally-cycling women experienced a significant increase in both testosterone and cortisol in response to the experimental stimulus but to none of the control stimuli. Participants taking hormonal contraceptives also showed a significant cortisol response to the attractive man. Women may release adrenal steroid hormones to facilitate courtship interactions with high mate-value men.

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