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I examine the influence hormonal contraception on interpersonal attraction. This study measures attraction to an imaginary interaction partner after inducing feelings of rejection or acceptance through false feedback. To investigate, I use a 2 (menstrual cycle: follicular phase or hormonal contraception) x 2 (reciprocity: present or absent) design. Women who use hormonal contraception have decreased reward sensitivity and emotional recognition. The implications of these decreases is two-fold. First, these decreases demonstrate a social difference between women who use hormonal contraception and naturally cycling women. Second, both reward sensitivity and emotional recognition are important for interpersonal attraction. Decreases in reward sensitivity equate to decreases in social bonding processes involved in interpersonal attraction. For example, examining emotional recognition in women who use hormonal contraception found insensitivity toward negative emotion face recognition, decreases in emotional memory, and less pronounced response toward negative social interactions. Inability or insensitivity toward emotion may have serious implications for how women who use hormonal contraception navigate relationships. In these ways, administration of hormonal contraception may affect interpersonal attraction. Social cue insensitivities may manifest in differing sensitivities toward social cues in women who use hormonal contraception. At ovulation, women sensitize toward flirtatious facial movements. During the luteal phase, naturally cycling women possess heightened sensitivity to social cues. These sensitizations fail to occur in women using hormonal contraception; this study will help to uncover how this lack manifests in relationship formation. I expect that menstrual cycle (follicular phase or hormonal contraception) will moderate the relation between reciprocity and attraction such that naturally cycling women will report greater attraction when reciprocity is present. When reciprocity is absent, I expect women using hormonal contraception to report greater attraction due to the decreased sensitivity toward negative social interactions. Practically, understanding potential impacts is especially important because millions of women worldwide use hormonal contraception.
Matthew Matthew Montoya
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences
"The Effect of Hormonal Contraception on Interpersonal Attraction in Cis-Women" (2020). Stander Symposium Projects. 1822.