February 19, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 78  

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Women competitive: researcher

By Amy Ferguson
Gazette Staff
Pete Bastedo/Gazette
CATFIGHT! CATFIGHT! MAYBE THEY’LL START MAKING OUT! Two ultra-competitive women throw blows on the second floor of the UCC. Maybe they’re ovulating.

Sugar and spice and everything nice? Think again. A new study has proven what women have long suspected — when it comes to getting the man you want, it is a dog-eat-dog world out there.

According to a recent study, a woman who is at the peak of her fertility cycle will downplay the attractiveness of other women around her.

Conducted at York University, study subjects were shown a series of 104 male and female faces and asked to rate them on their level of attractiveness.

“We found that women in the most fertile part of their cycles gave lower ratings for female faces than those in less fertile parts of their cycles,” said Maryanne Fisher, the study’s lead researcher and a doctoral candidate in psychology at York. She noted the ratings women gave for male faces remained constant.

“Previous studies have focused merely on what women want in a man. I wanted to see what women will do to get a man,” Fisher said, noting women will attack another woman’s fidelity and question her maternal capabilities in order to appear more desirable to men.

“The findings are controversial because many people are under the misconception that women are not competitive creatures,” she said.

Fisher plans to follow up this study with a look at women in a “natural” environment. The study will involve visits to several Toronto night clubs, where she will explore what women will say about each other in the name of competition.

“The study of intra-sexual competitive relations has been neglected in the past,” said Lorne Campbell, professor of psychology at Western, noting there is, however, no shortage when it comes to exploiting these relations, citing shows such as Joe Millionaire and The Bachelor which pit girl against girl in a fight to win one man’s heart.

Campbell noted there is a definite need for more research in order to predict exactly what women will do when faced with a rival.

“[Fisher’s study] is an interesting start, but there are still many questions to be looked at,” he said.

But Edward Ebanks, a Western sociology professor, questioned Fisher’s findings. “[I do] not believe there was any correlation between the two,” he said.

“I hope that this is only the beginning,” Fisher added. “Now that the door has been opened, I look forward to exploring and debating the issue [of female competition] with others.”



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