Ten Unusual Experiments in the Name of Science
Whoever thinks this study is nothing more than two researchers finding the ultimate excuse to receive 5,300 lap dances in two months, will be disappointed: Research psychologists Geoffrey Miller and Brent Jordan gathered their data via a website, where strippers logged in anonymously to provide information about their earnings, productivity and menstrual cycles.
The researchers designed the study to examine the effects of ovulation on sexual attractiveness of women. The so-called “estrus,” a phase of increased female sexual receptivity, proceptivity, selectivity, and attractiveness, is often claimed to have ‘gotten lost’ in evolution. Many studies within the field of evolutionary psychology, however, have shown that men do tend to be more attracted to women when ovulating. In one study, men for example were asked to rate two pictures of the same woman: one taken during ovulation, the other during a lower fertility cycle phase. Most of them preferred the first one. Still, the effect of estrus had not been measured in the real world yet. So Miller and Jordan came up with the easiest way of measuring sexual satisfaction among men: tracking how much they tip the stripper.
More tampons, less tips
The idea for the study occurred when Jordan worked in a strip joint during college. As the manager of the club, among his duties were both collecting nightly reports on the dancers’ tips, and handing out tampons when necessary. He then noticed that the strippers in need of tampons, were also the ones who got tipped less. Jordan teamed up with evolutionary psychologist Miller, after which the hypothesis could be tested.
The results: Normally cycling strippers (not on birth control) earned about US$ 335 per 5-hour shift during estrus, US$260 per shift during the lower fertility phase, and US$185 per shift during menstruation. Why exactly? The psychologists are not sure. It could be related to smell, or sound maybe, but this should be investigated in further research. They do believe women can economically benefit from their findings though. “The findings that estrus impacts earnings could have implications for women selling cars or giving big presentations as C.E.O.’s,’’ Miller says in an interview with New York Times. ‘‘Should women schedule big job interviews during certain weeks of the month? We don’t know. But maybe.”
Read (open access) study
Miller, G., Tybur, J., & Jordan, B. (2007). Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: economic evidence for human estrus?☆ Evolution and Human Behavior, 28 (6), 375-381 DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2007.06.002