Science continues to prove why women love bad boys. A woman’s hormones affect her choice in picking the hunkier option as a potential father.

New studies highlight the role hormones that are associated with ovulation may play in how women choose potential fathers. A week before ovulation, women are more inclined to go for the sexier option, be it a dashing playboy or a rugged outdoorsman. Whether or not it is the best decision to choose the heartthrob over the more reliable option is still up for debate.

The three studies, conducted by Kristina M. Durante, PhD, from the University of Texas at San Antonio’s College of Business, involved women evaluating sexy men and ordinary men who may be a better fit for a long-term commitment like being a father.  Ovulation levels affected how women perceived sexier men to be better suited for fatherhood for their child but not for another woman’s child.

In the first study, 33 women looked at dating site profile pictures of attractive men and more reliable men during a high-fertility day, near ovulation, and during a low-fertility day. The sexy men had profiles that described the men as charming, athletic and adventurous outdoorsmen. The reliable men had ordinary profile pictures while the profiles described the men as hard-workers with several promotions.

During high-fertility, the women chose the sexier photos, believing that these men would become invested as dads, that they would change their wild ways and settle down to become a great father. Ovulation did not affect how women perceived the more reliable men.

The second study took this a step further by having actors play the role of the sexy charmer and the reliable do-gooder. The women were under the impression that they were involved in a twin study, which allowed each actor to play different roles.

As with the previous study, the women interacted with the actor during a day of high-fertility and a day of low-fertility. The actor recorded two videos, one as a sexy adventurer who was unreliable and another as a reliable man who was reserved but committed.

The sexy, albeit irresponsible, choice was picked during high-fertility days. The women believed that the hunk would change and become an invested dad for their child.

The third study consisted of a national survey of 318 women who were at different stages of ovulation. This study cemented the idea that fertility plays a role in how women perceive males. Women believed that the sexy man would become a reliable father who would provide a stable household for their offspring.

In all three studies, while a bad boy may be good for their child, a woman could easily pick out all the flaws of the bad boy as a potential father to another woman’s child. For some women, the short-term wins out as the sexy catch may be just too much to resist. 

The study will be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.