Every week I listen to the ABC’s Science Show. It covers some pretty interesting topics. But on last week’s podcast, one item caught my interest: a report on a study of lap dancers. The research was conducted in New Mexico, and reported in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior in October 2007 . (I don’t know why it took until February 2011 to reach the Science Show .) The study tested whether humans advertise their fertility to the opposite sex when they’re ovulating, i.e. ‘on heat’ –
as some other mammals including dogs and goats do. The researchers studied 18 lap dancers who performed 5,300 lap dances in a 60-day period. They collected data on how much money was paid in tips at various stages of the menstrual cycle. Of the 11 women with normal menstrual cycles, tips rose by about 50% when they were ovulating compared with the rest of their cycle. The other seven women, who were on the pill and thus not ovulating, earned less money in tips, with no variation over time. This research suggests women subtly signal when they’re most fertile, though just how they do it isn’t clear. One expert said ‘It is highly possible that estrogen modulates motion abilities…[in which case]…‘it seems to be most likely that body motion – and not pheromones – is the information carrier’. Clearly more research is needed. I’d be more than happy to help out. Ho hum.