Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations


Do Female Thriftiness and Bragging about Thriftiness Peak Near Ovulation?

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Anne Gordon (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Casey Cromwell (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Srinivas Melkote (Other)

Fourth Advisor

Bill O'Brien (Committee Member)


According to the competitive thriftiness hypothesis (Gordon & Nebl, 2015), being thrifty requires a number of cognitive and personality traits, namely conscientiousness, intelligence, and self-control. According to this hypothesis, thriftiness is also expected to be associated with a long-term mating orientation and an aversion to short-term mating and infidelity. One way to signal these desirable traits to others is by telling others about one's successful bargain-hunting experiences. A separate, large, and growing body of research suggests that women look, feel, sound, and act somewhat differently during the high-fertility window of their ovulatory cycle. Several studies converge on the notion that women are more oriented toward mating during this time, and that they engage in more sexual signaling, and increased intrasexual competition. In the current research, I made novel predictions about how women's spending and signaling behavior may vary as a function of their ovulatory status. Namely, I expected females near ovulation (when they are more fertile) to shop in a more thrifty manner than females not near ovulation. Additionally, I expected females near ovulation to engage in more signaling of their thriftiness than females not near ovulation. However, I expected this latter effect to be moderated by the target of the bragging, such that an increase in signaling of thriftiness among high-fertility females is expected to occur only when the target of the communication is another female. The findings of this study did not support the predictions; females near ovulation did not behave any differently in regards to thriftiness or bragging about thriftiness than females not near ovulation. The nature of the null results and the implications for the competitive thriftiness hypothesis are discussed.