varietyPlanning to shop for clothes, books, kitchen gadgets or other items? Choosing a restaurant for lunch? Or making other purchasing decisions? Listen to this:

Where you are in your monthly cycle could impact what you spend your money on. 

According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, in the days leading up to and including ovulation (approximately Day 9 to Day 15 in a 28-day cycle), you crave more variety, so you’re more likely to seek out a wider selection of choices as well as choices that are different from what you’re used to.

For instance, even though you’re usually loyal to a specific brand of shampoo, you might find that you’re willing to try a competing brand. Or, though you regularly order a favorite dish from a neighborhood cafe, you may opt for a restaurant that offers a wider selection with rotating specials. Or instead of purchasing one large cake for a birthday party, you opt for a dozen mixed-flavor cupcakes.

But, this isn’t the whole story, the researchers say: Turns out, if you’re in a romantic relationship, this desire for novelty on these days in your cycle is more intense than if you’re single.

However, this comes with a caveat: If you’re not secure or emotional attached in your relationship (perhaps, because it’s brand-new and not sure where it’s going), then you’re likely to seek out far more variety on these days in your cycle. However, if you’re head-over-heels in-love and totally committed to your partner, then this variety-seeking desire is far less intense. (Which, to me, sounds like one intriguing way of judging just how close you feel to your partner.)

Regardless of your relationship status, why do these changes in purchasing preferences occur as you approach ovulation?

As with many hormone studies, it likely has to do with ensuring the survival of the human species.

That’s right–your trip to Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up five different photo frames may actually helped us all from going extinct.

How so? The authors of this study theorize that when you’re near or at ovulation in your cycle (which is when you’re most fertile), you become more open to considering a wider variety of options in mates than you normally would as a way to improve your chances of conception and find the best genetic match-up to conceive a child with–and, this includes considering alternative mates even when you’ve got a current partner.

(By the way, the researchers are quick to point out that this doesn’t mean you’re more likely to be physically intimate with a wider number of partners. Just more open to meeting them as a way to compare and contrast your options.)

While this openness to variety in mates is a seemingly effective evolutionary technique designed to continue the human species, the researchers think this openness carries over into other aspects of your life–notably, how much variety you seek when making purchasing decisions.

So, what do you think? Do you find your desire for something new climbs as you approach ovulation?

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[Photo: Kevin Dooley]