Erin M. O’Mara, Ph.D.
The goal of the present work was to empirically examine how mate poaching, or romantically pursuing an individual already in a committed relationship (Schmitt & Buss, 2001), varies across the menstrual cycle. The existing literature strongly suggests that partnered women are wary of ovulating women because they are deemed threatening rivals (Krems, Neel, Neuberg, Puts, & Kenrick, 2016). The series of experiments described here tested this assumption by examining both the mate poaching behaviors and perceptions of ovulating women across the menstrual cycle. The first experiment examined if ovulating women would be more willing to mate poach an attractive man. The results were significant, finding that normally ovulating women near peak fertility were more likely to engage in mate poaching behaviors to steal the attractive man away from his relationship than they were for the average-looking man. The second and third experiments examined how women viewed other, ovulating women in the context of potential mate poaching across the menstrual cycles of both the rival and the observer. The second experiment finding, which approached significance, was that normally ovulating women were more likely to view rival near peak fertility as more threatening than women on hormonal contraceptives. The third experiment found perception of poaching is impacted by women’s own conception risk. Implications of these findings, as well as future directions, are discussed.
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Jaeger, Margaret M., "The Other Woman: Mate Poaching Across the Menstrual Cycle" (2018). Honors Theses. 163.