Women's fertility cues affect cooperative behavior: Evidence for the role of the human putative chemosignal estratetraenol

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Previous studies demonstrating that women's body odor during ovulation is perceived as more attractive suggest that exposure to women's chemosignals of high fertility increases mating motivation. Building on previous evidence showing that cooperative behaviors are perceived as attractive, in the current study we investigated whether chemosignals of women's fertility affect men's tendency to behave cooperatively. In the first experiment we found that in the presence of women's body odor during ovulation, men increase their tendency to apply a cooperative strategy, while their tendency to apply an individualistic strategy decreases. To examine the mechanism underlying this effect, we tested a different sample of men exposed to the putative human pheromone estratetraenol (estra-1,3,5(10),16-tetraen-3-ol) or to a control solution. Exposure toestratetraenol compared with control yielded strikingly similar effects of increased cooperation. The results indicate that women's chemosignals of high fertility increase mating motivation among man, encouraging them to act in a cooperative manner toward others, a response that may highlight their attractive qualities and thus attract mates. We further conclude that estratetraenol may serve as one of the biological agents that mediate the behavioral effects of women's chemosignals of fertility on social behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-59
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Chemosignaling
  • cooperation
  • estratetraenol
  • mating behavior
  • menstrual cycle
  • putative pheromones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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