Partner choice, relationship satisfaction, and oral contraception: the congruency hypothesis



Roberts SC, Little A, Burriss R, Cobey KD, Klapilova K, Havlicek J, Jones BC, DeBruine LM & Petrie M (2014) Partner choice, relationship satisfaction, and oral contraception: the congruency hypothesis. Psychological Science, 25 (7), pp. 1497-1503.

Hormonal fluctuation across the menstrual cycle explains temporal variation in women’s judgment of the attractiveness of members of the opposite sex. Use of hormonal contraceptives could therefore influence both initial partner choice and, if contraceptive use subsequently changes, intrapair dynamics. Associations between hormonal contraceptive use and relationship satisfaction may thus be best understood by considering whether current use is congruent with use when relationships formed, rather than by considering current use alone. In the study reported here, we tested this congruency hypothesis in a survey of 365 couples. Controlling for potential confounds (including relationship duration, age, parenthood, and income), we found that congruency in current and previous hormonal contraceptive use, but not current use alone, predicted women’s sexual satisfaction with their partners. Congruency was not associated with women’s nonsexual satisfaction or with the satisfaction of their male partners. Our results provide empirical support for the congruency hypothesis and suggest that women’s sexual satisfaction is influenced by changes in partner preference associated with change in hormonal contraceptive use.

menstrual cycle; mate choice; romantic relationships; sexual desire; hormonal contraception; major histocompatibility complex; MHC; masculinity

Psychological Science: Volume 25, Issue 7

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council and The British Academy
Publication date31/07/2014
Publication date online12/05/2014
Date accepted by journal25/03/2014

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Professor Craig Roberts

Professor Craig Roberts

Professor of Social Psychology, Psychology

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