Fertility Speech Patterns

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Studies have shown that men pick up on the subtle cues that a woman is ovulating, like changes in  her scent and  her face. You’d think a guy picking up on these subtle hints would do what he could to make himself more attractive to her.

Interestingly there’s one case where what men do to to this end  is just the opposite of what you’d think it should be. A recent study published in the journal PLoS ONE showed that men who were talking to a woman who was in her fertile period were less likely to match her speech patterns, which is kind of interesting, since matching someone’s speech patterns is usually thought to make you seem friendly, writes Bonnie Rochman of Time Magazine who reported on the study in March…we’ve all certainly had the experience of picking up on another person’s accent or hearing someone else do it (British Madonna, anyone?)

Jacqueline Coyle an adjunct professorof human factors and systems at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University had done research into the scent part of the attraction equation in the past and was interested to see if language played a part in the mating game as well. Her study tracked the interaction of 123 male undergrads with 5 female undergrads at different times in their menstrual cycles. The pairs were asked to describe pictures to each other with the woman using a script. When the woman was closer to ovulating the man was less likely to copy her sentence structure.  When the test was “flip-flopped” with 47 female undergrads “their fertility level did not appear to affect the degree to which they matched their conversation partner’s sentence structure. In other words, the effect seems specific to men,” Rochman writes.

The vocal mismatch, Coyle concluded “demonstrates that men may use creative or non-conforming language as a means of attracting a potential romantic partner,” in other words trying to stand out from the crowd.

Kind of intriguing, since it suggests that even biologically being a ‘yes man,’ so to speak, is not necessarily the way to go. But in a way it makes sense: before you can impress her with what a great guy you are, she has to notice you first.

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