Meow! Science sinks its claws into catty comments

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 February, 2004, 12:00am

Feminists will hate this but sorry, we male pigs just love it.

Canadian behavioural scientist Maryanne Fisher has found that women instinctively downgrade the attractiveness of other women's looks at the most fertile point in their monthly cycle, but tend to be more generous at other times.

This easily translates into catty comments in a nightclub washroom about another woman's looks, according to the scientist at York University, Toronto, whose findings were published in the current issue of Royal Society Biology Letters.

But why do women do it? One obvious hypothesis, says Dr Fisher, is that such snide remarks are weapons in the fight to snare the man they want, so it is natural that sexual competition is most intense when fertility peaks.

In her research, 57 women and 47 men were asked to look at photographs of male and female faces and to rate their attractiveness on a seven-point scale of 'extremely unattractive' to 'extremely attractive'.

The men's ratings were consistent but when the women rated other females, their scores fluctuated by half a point depending on the time of the month. Their menstrual cycle, however, had no effect on their ratings of men.

So guys, next time you hear such a caustic remark, you know she's got her eye on you.