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Exploring social consequences of partner choice while using hormonal contraception

Exploring social consequences of partner choice while using hormonal contraception

Sociology • Research Funding

Mid-Career Fellowship

The award

Dr S. Craig Roberts, of the Division of Psychology at the University of Stirling, was awarded £123,037 to undertake his Mid-Career Fellowship between 2013 and 2014.  

The project

Dr Roberts was awarded his Mid-Career Fellowship to explore how mate preferences, and the quality of long-term relationships, could be being influenced by hormonal contraceptives. Based on recent lab research which has suggested that widely-used hormonal contraception has disruptive effects on genetically mediated mate preferences, he aimed to test how this influences the outcome of long-term relationships by studying large samples of couples, and to discuss this emerging research with key stakeholders to determine how it could be best communicated to inform policy, practice and public debate.  

Our funding

The funding from the British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship provided Dr Roberts with a 12 month period dedicated solely to his research project and away from his normal teaching and administrative commitments.  During his Fellowship the award funding also enabled Dr Roberts to travel to various parts of Europe to undertake tests, complete surveys and carry out data analysis on a wide variety of aspects of his project, all of which fed directly into the resultingt outcomes.  


Based on his results, Dr Roberts introduced the ‘congruency hypothesis’, a new framework for understanding the effects of hormonal contraception on women’s relationship functioning. He proposes that relationship satisfaction is best predicted by whether or not a woman’s current hormonal contraceptive use is congruent with her use at the time the couples met. During his Fellowship Dr Roberts published a series of 10 papers that present his new findings and summarise the growing evidence in this field, many of which generated extensive media attention.  He is now applying for further funding to extend this work and is a scientific advisor on a Wellcome Trust Arts Award application aiming to further engage the public on this topic.