What if your sudden burst of generosity was explained… by biology? According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf, Germany, and published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, women are more likely to offer gifts and drinks to friends, family or partners during the second half of the menstrual cycle, i.e. within two weeks of the ovulation phase on average.
Unsolicited prosocial behavior
In question ? A particular cocktail of hormones, namely an increase in progesterone and a drop in estradiol, which usually occurs during the luteal phase of the cycle in order to prepare the body for the potential arrival of pregnancy. According to the researchers, this jump in progesterone, which reaches its peak around the 21st day, would indeed stimulate the “proactive and unsolicited prosocial behavior, support and protection”. Note that this monthly trend in charity only extends to the closest people, and not to strangers.
The study was conducted on a total of 129 healthy women, aged 18 to 36, with regular cycles and not using hormonal contraceptives. On the program of the experience? They were led to make a series of choices between a so-called selfish option – choosing a monetary reward reserved for them alone – and a more altruistic option, where they opted for a less attractive individual benefit by sharing their reward equally with other women. . Choices they had to make while in parallel, saliva samples were taken from each of them before being tested to assess the concentration of hormones at the time of the dilemma.
The woman more generous than the man… by nature?
Beyond the effects of the menstrual cycle, women are by nature generally more altruistic, generous and caring than their male counterparts. It would be anchored in their brain, according to studies cited by neuroscience doctor Sébastien Bohler in the magazine Cerveau & Psycho.
“In their experiments, the Swiss and German scientists entrusted 29 men and 27 women with a sum of money of around 10 euros, which they could either keep for themselves or share with another person. […] First observation [établi par IRM], women share more than men: 52% of altruistic choices on average, compared to 39% for men. Second observation: in their brain, a key zone of the pleasure circuit, the striatum, is activated more for altruistic choices, whereas this same cerebral structure is activated more often for selfish choices in men. Giving or keeping would therefore come down to the pleasure one derives from it, a pleasure associated more with generosity in women and individualism in men. »