Holzleitner IJ, Hahn AC, Fisher C, Lee A, O'Shea KJ, Jones BC & DeBruine LM (preprint). Hormonal regulation of women′s prosocial, but not sexual, responses to kinship cues. BioRχiv . doi: 10.1101/192054

Women′s affiliative behavior towards kin and responses to facial cues of kinship (self-resemblance) both change as a function of their hormonal status. Such hormone-mediated changes might serve to (1) avoid inbreeding during peak fertility and/or (2) increase kin affiliation during pregnancy. The first hypothesis predicts that responses to kinship cues will be most negative during hormonal states characteristic of high fertility (i.e., when estradiol-to-progesterone ratio is high). The second hypothesis predicts that responses to kinship cues will be most positive during hormonal states characteristic of pregnancy (i.e., when progesterone is high). We used a longitudinal design (N = 176) to investigate possible relationships between women′s responses to self-resembling faces and their measured salivary hormone levels. Women′s preferences for self-resembling male faces were not related to estradiol-to-progesterone ratio. However, preferences for self-resembling female faces were positively related to progesterone (and negatively to estradiol). These findings do not support the inbreeding-avoidance hypothesis, but do support the proposal that women′s hormonal status influences attitudes to kin because of benefits associated with increased kin affiliation during pregnancy.

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