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Female fertility affects men's linguistic choices.

Coyle JM, Kaschak MP - PLoS ONE (2012)

Bottom Line: Men interacted with women throughout their menstrual cycle.A follow-up study revealed that female participants do not show this same change in linguistic behavior as a function of changes in their conversation partner's fertility.We interpret these findings in the context of recent data suggesting that non-conforming behavior may be a means of men displaying their fitness as a mate to women.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Human Factors and Systems Department, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida, United States of America. coylej2@erau.edu

ABSTRACT
We examined the influence of female fertility on the likelihood of male participants aligning their choice of syntactic construction with those of female confederates. Men interacted with women throughout their menstrual cycle. On critical trials during the interaction, the confederate described a picture to the participant using particular syntactic constructions. Immediately thereafter, the participant described to the confederate a picture that could be described using either the same construction that was used by the confederate or an alternative form of the construction. Our data show that the likelihood of men choosing the same syntactic structure as the women was inversely related to the women's level of fertility: higher levels of fertility were associated with lower levels of linguistic matching. A follow-up study revealed that female participants do not show this same change in linguistic behavior as a function of changes in their conversation partner's fertility. We interpret these findings in the context of recent data suggesting that non-conforming behavior may be a means of men displaying their fitness as a mate to women.

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Example picture from the picture description task.
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pone-0027971-g001: Example picture from the picture description task.

Mentions: Two sets of pictures (“description sets”; one for the confederate, and one for the participant) were constructed. Each consisted of 17 pictures: 8 critical pictures that could be described using the DO or PO construction, and 9 filler pictures. Each picture had a verb typed above it, which was to be used in generating a sentence to describe the picture (see Figure 1). The critical pictures used by the confederate were scripted to be described with either a DO or PO construction (4 DO descriptions and 4 PO descriptions). Confederates produced the same set of picture descriptions for every participant. The pictures in both sets were put into a fixed order, such that each critical picture described by the confederate was immediately followed by a critical picture for which the participant could use either the DO or PO construction to generate a description. Critical pictures used the same verb as the confederate's picture half of the time, and used a different verb half of the time1. The manipulation of construction type (DO vs. PO) and verb repetition (same verb vs. different verb) was intended to provide variability across trials. As we did not counterbalance critical pictures across construction type or verb repetition, meaningful conclusions about the effects of these variables cannot be drawn. Because of this, and because the effects of construction type and verb repetition are orthogonal to the effects of conception risk (as the same items are given to every participant), these variables are not included in the analysis reported below. A duplicate of each description set was created to be used for identifying the picture one's partner just had described (the “matching sets”). Matching sets were shuffled before each use.


Female fertility affects men's linguistic choices.

Coyle JM, Kaschak MP - PLoS ONE (2012)

Example picture from the picture description task.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3275601&req=5

pone-0027971-g001: Example picture from the picture description task.
Mentions: Two sets of pictures (“description sets”; one for the confederate, and one for the participant) were constructed. Each consisted of 17 pictures: 8 critical pictures that could be described using the DO or PO construction, and 9 filler pictures. Each picture had a verb typed above it, which was to be used in generating a sentence to describe the picture (see Figure 1). The critical pictures used by the confederate were scripted to be described with either a DO or PO construction (4 DO descriptions and 4 PO descriptions). Confederates produced the same set of picture descriptions for every participant. The pictures in both sets were put into a fixed order, such that each critical picture described by the confederate was immediately followed by a critical picture for which the participant could use either the DO or PO construction to generate a description. Critical pictures used the same verb as the confederate's picture half of the time, and used a different verb half of the time1. The manipulation of construction type (DO vs. PO) and verb repetition (same verb vs. different verb) was intended to provide variability across trials. As we did not counterbalance critical pictures across construction type or verb repetition, meaningful conclusions about the effects of these variables cannot be drawn. Because of this, and because the effects of construction type and verb repetition are orthogonal to the effects of conception risk (as the same items are given to every participant), these variables are not included in the analysis reported below. A duplicate of each description set was created to be used for identifying the picture one's partner just had described (the “matching sets”). Matching sets were shuffled before each use.

Bottom Line: Men interacted with women throughout their menstrual cycle.A follow-up study revealed that female participants do not show this same change in linguistic behavior as a function of changes in their conversation partner's fertility.We interpret these findings in the context of recent data suggesting that non-conforming behavior may be a means of men displaying their fitness as a mate to women.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Human Factors and Systems Department, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida, United States of America. coylej2@erau.edu

ABSTRACT
We examined the influence of female fertility on the likelihood of male participants aligning their choice of syntactic construction with those of female confederates. Men interacted with women throughout their menstrual cycle. On critical trials during the interaction, the confederate described a picture to the participant using particular syntactic constructions. Immediately thereafter, the participant described to the confederate a picture that could be described using either the same construction that was used by the confederate or an alternative form of the construction. Our data show that the likelihood of men choosing the same syntactic structure as the women was inversely related to the women's level of fertility: higher levels of fertility were associated with lower levels of linguistic matching. A follow-up study revealed that female participants do not show this same change in linguistic behavior as a function of changes in their conversation partner's fertility. We interpret these findings in the context of recent data suggesting that non-conforming behavior may be a means of men displaying their fitness as a mate to women.

Show MeSH