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Partner Choice, Relationship Satisfaction, and Oral Contraception: The Congruency Hypothesis

Lookup NU author(s): Jan Havlicek, Emerita Professor Marion Petrie


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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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Roberts SC, Little AC, Burriss RP, Cobey KD, Klapilova K, Havlicek J, Jones BC, DeBruine L, Petrie M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Psychological Science

Year: 2014

Volume: 25

Issue: 7

Pages: 1497-1503

Print publication date: 01/07/2014

Online publication date: 12/05/2014

Acceptance date: 25/03/2014

ISSN (print): 0956-7976

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9280

Publisher: Sage


DOI: 10.1177/0956797614532295


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