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Social Orientation in the Luteal Phase: Increased Social Feedback Sensitivity, Inhibitory Response, Interpersonal Anxiety and Cooperation Preference
Evolutionary Psychology  (IF1.506),  Pub Date : 2021-01-25, DOI: 10.1177/1474704920986866
Jia-Xi Wang, Jin-Ying Zhuang, Lulu Fu, Qin Lei

Cyclical fluctuations of the ovarian hormones estrogen (E2) and progesterone (PROG) have multiple effects on reproduction and development. However, little is known about the roles of E2 and PROG in women’s social behaviors. Here, based on evolutionary theory suggesting social sensitivity and inhibition ability are conductive to maintaining social relationships, we provide evidence for the association between menstrual phases and social orientation. In Study 1, 78 women provided saliva samples and reported their intensity of behavioral activation/inhibition system (BAS/BIS) and interpersonal sensitivity at either of two phases of the menstrual cycle: late follicular phase (FP), and mid-luteal phase (LP). A significant between-subject association emerged, revealing that women with higher PROG levels reported higher levels of social feedback sensitivity, and women with relatively high PROG levels showed a positive association between their E2 levels and inhibitory response. In Study 2, 30 women reported their interpersonal anxiety and finished the social value orientation (SVO) measures at both late FP and mid-LP. A significant within-person effect emerged: women in the mid-LP, which is characterized by higher PROG levels, reported higher levels of interpersonal anxiety and SVO. In sum, these findings revealed that women’s social orientation could fluctuate naturally with ovarian hormones across the menstrual cycle.