Ovulation leads women to perceive sexy cads as good dads

Kristina M. Durante, Vladas Griskevicius, Jeff Simpson, Stephanie M. Cantú, Norman P. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Why do some women pursue relationships with men who are attractive, dominant, and charming but who do not want to be in relationships-the prototypical sexy cad? Previous research shows that women have an increased desire for such men when they are ovulating, but it is unclear why ovulating women would think it is wise to pursue men who may be unfaithful and could desert them. Using both college-age and community-based samples, in 3 studies we show that ovulating women perceive charismatic and physically attractive men, but not reliable and nice men, as more committed partners and more devoted future fathers. Ovulating women perceive that sexy cads would be good fathers to their own children but not to the children of other women. This ovulatory-induced perceptual shift is driven by women who experienced early onset of puberty. Taken together, the current research identifies a novel proximate reason why ovulating women pursue relationships with sexy cads, complementing existing research that identifies the ultimate, evolutionary reasons for this behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-305
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Fertility
  • Mate selection
  • Mating
  • Ovulation

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