Two lines of reasoning predict that women's preferences for people exhibiting cues to kinship will be lower in the follicular phase than in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Women may avoid kinship cues during the follicular phase when they are most fertile due to the costs of inbreeding. Alternatively, women may seek kinship cues during the luteal phase as a byproduct of the benefits of associating with kin during pregnancy, which is also characterized by high progesterone. We find that preferences for facial resemblance, a putative kinship cue, follow this predicted pattern and are positively correlated with estimated progesterone levels based on cycle day. Neither estimated estrogen levels nor conception risk predicted preferences for self-resemblance, and the cyclic shift was stronger for preferences for female faces than male faces. These findings lead to the possibility that this cyclic change in preference for self-resemblance may be a byproduct of a hormonal mechanism for increasing affiliative behavior toward kin during pregnancy rather than a mechanism for preventing inbreeding during fertile periods.
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