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Abstract

Men and women differ in the importance that they ascribe to the characters of a potential mate. Previous work has shown that women rate olfactory cues as more important than men in mate choice. We investigated whether this sex difference (a) is specific to the mate choice context; (b) is reliant upon sexual experience; and (c) exhibits cross-cultural differences between the US (previous study) and the Czech Republic (current study). A questionnaire on the importance of particular senses in different situations was administered to 717 Czech high school students. We replicated existing findings of greater reliance on olfactory cues by women, and of visual cues by men, both for partner choice and during sexual arousal. We also found that women valued olfactory cues significantly more than men in non-sexual contexts. Principal components analysis showed that responses could be grouped by both context and sensory modality. There was no apparent influence of sexual experience on sensory reliance. Cultural differences were also evident: the Czech high school students of our sample rated body odors more positively, and were less visually oriented, than the US university students of previous work.

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... Some of these variables are widespread; regardless of sex or sexual orientation, people attend to variables such as honesty, health, a good disposition, and emotional stability (Buss et al. 2001;Lippa 2007). Preferences for other attributes, such as a potential partner's visual appearance, social status, or personal scent, show individual differences and vary based on factors such as sex (Havlíček et al. 2008). ...
... Olfactory social cues can be important parts of the mate selection process, though there are individual differences as to the value of such cues. Heterosexual individuals value olfactory information relatively highly in mate selection (Herz and Inzlicht 2002;Sergeant et al. 2005;Havlíček et al. 2008;White and Cunningham 2017), possibly because odor may function as a cue to reproductive fitness. It is not clear whether a sex difference exists regarding the importance of olfaction; some literature indicates no difference between the sexes (Sergeant et al. 2005;White and Cunningham 2017), while other studies report that the scent of a potential lover is more important to heterosexual women than to men (Herz and Inzlicht 2002;Havlíček et al. 2008). ...
... Heterosexual individuals value olfactory information relatively highly in mate selection (Herz and Inzlicht 2002;Sergeant et al. 2005;Havlíček et al. 2008;White and Cunningham 2017), possibly because odor may function as a cue to reproductive fitness. It is not clear whether a sex difference exists regarding the importance of olfaction; some literature indicates no difference between the sexes (Sergeant et al. 2005;White and Cunningham 2017), while other studies report that the scent of a potential lover is more important to heterosexual women than to men (Herz and Inzlicht 2002;Havlíček et al. 2008). The literature is consistent, however, in within-group differences that emphasize the importance of olfaction over other traits for heterosexual women; the way that a potential mate smells is more important to that group than most of the other personal traits evaluated (Herz and Inzlicht 2002;Havlíček et al. 2008;White and Cunningham 2017). ...
Article
Introduction: Many people seem to be looking for similar attributes when searching for a potential romantic partner. Olfactory social cues can be important parts of the process, though there are individual differences as to their value. Gay men, for example, value scent less in selecting a romantic partner than do heterosexual men (White and Cunningham 2017). Is it possible that the relative importance of olfaction in mate selection is simply a natural consequence of being generally aware of odorants? Method: The present study examined the relationship between odor awareness and odor importance in mating in two studies. Participants in each of the studies completed both the Romantic Interest Survey (Herz and Inzlich 2002) and the Odor Awareness Survey (Smeets et al. 2008). In the first study, 455 college-aged heterosexual individuals were surveyed, while in the second study, 453 individuals varying in sexual preference (142 heterosexual women, 161 heterosexual men, and 150 gay men) completed the questionnaires. Results: Principle components analyses from both studies revealed two different components underlying scores on the RIS; one component best accounted for OAS scores. Regression analysis for both studies indicated that OAS scores predicted the first RIS principle component, but not the second one. Conclusions: The value of odorants in selecting a romantic partner seems to reflect two different underlying attitudes. The first attitude values all aspects of the smell of a lover, while the second only finds it important that the lover does not smell badly. Odor awareness is related only to the first of these attitudes. Implications: These findings suggest that odor awareness accounts for some of the attitudes concerning the value of odors in mate selection, but not all of them. Other factors, such as the need to avoid aversive stimuli may also contribute to the relative importance of olfaction in selecting a partner. https://rdcu.be/4uSN
... Indeed, in sighted individuals, sex differences for the importance of different sensory cues have already been reported previously. Two studies, conducted in the USA and the Czech Republic, showed that men considered vision the most important sense for mate choice, whereas women rated olfaction as the most important sense (Havlíček et al., 2008;Herz & Inzlicht, 2002). The heightened importance of odor for women in particular might be ascribed to the role odor plays in determining genetic quality and compatibility (Havlíček & Roberts, 2009). ...
... The heightened importance of odor for women in particular might be ascribed to the role odor plays in determining genetic quality and compatibility (Havlíček & Roberts, 2009). Yet, women also place greater importance on olfactory cues in social contexts that are not related to mate choice, potentially relating to offspring identification and food acquisition (Havlíček et al., 2008). Therefore, it remains unclear whether mate choice is driving the aforementioned sex differences. ...
... Sex differences were detected only for visual cues. As expected, visual cues were most important for sighted males, perhaps because they provide more direct information about a partner's age and fertility than auditory information arising from voice (Buss, 2006;Havlíček et al., 2008;Moyse, 2014). Visual cues were less important for blind males, probably because they could not be directly assessed and therefore do not offer useful information. ...
Article
Full-text available
Cross-cultural research has repeatedly demonstrated sex differences in the importance of partner characteristics when choosing a mate. Men typically report higher preferences for younger, more physically attractive women, while women typically place more importance on a partner’s status and wealth. As the assessment of such partner characteristics often relies on visual cues, this raises the question whether visual experience is necessary for sex-specific mate preferences to develop. To shed more light onto the emergence of sex differences in mate choice, the current study assessed how preferences for attractiveness, resources, and personality factors differ between sighted and blind individuals using an online questionnaire. We further investigate the role of social factors and sensory cue selection in these sex differences. Our sample consisted of 94 sighted and blind participants with different ages of blindness onset: 19 blind/28 sighted males and 19 blind/28 sighted females. Results replicated well-documented findings in the sighted, with men placing more importance on physical attractiveness and women placing more importance on status and resources. However, while physical attractiveness was less important to blind men, blind women considered physical attractiveness as important as sighted women. The importance of a high status and likeable personality was not influenced by sightedness. Blind individuals considered auditory cues more important than visual cues, while sighted males showed the opposite pattern. Further, relationship status and indirect, social influences were related to preferences. Overall, our findings shed light on the availability of visual information for the emergence of sex differences in mate preference.
... Thus, whether attractiveness ratings of isolated vocal samples predict date success remains to be examined. Not only the voice, but also the scent of a potential partner might be used as a cue when it comes to partner choice (Havlíček et al., 2008;Mahmut & Croy, 2019;White & Cunningham, 2017). Importantly, humans use scent to extract an impressive amount of information relevant for mate choice, such as sex, dominance, fertility, health, and genetic compatibility (Groyecka et al., 2017;Lobmaier, Fischbacher, Wirthmüller, & Knoch, 2018;Roberts, Gosling, Carter, & Petrie, 2008). ...
... Importantly, humans use scent to extract an impressive amount of information relevant for mate choice, such as sex, dominance, fertility, health, and genetic compatibility (Groyecka et al., 2017;Lobmaier, Fischbacher, Wirthmüller, & Knoch, 2018;Roberts, Gosling, Carter, & Petrie, 2008). Interestingly, smell might be more important for women than for men (Havlíček et al., 2008). Previous research on olfactory preferences of men have mainly focused on genetic compatibility (e.g., Roberts et al., 2008) and ovulatory shift effects (e.g., Lobmaier et al., 2018), while the contribution of olfactory attractiveness in male mate choice has remained relatively unexplored. ...
... Interestingly, the relationship that we found for women was negative: they were less likely to want to go on another date with men whose smell they rated as attractive. This direction of the effect is surprising given previous evidence suggesting that scent plays an important role in mate selection for women (Havlíček et al., 2008). It is unclear why this effect might have occurred. ...
Article
Full-text available
When people meet a potential partner for the first time, they are confronted with multiple sources of information, encompassing different modalities, that they can use to determine whether this partner is suitable for them or not. While visual attractiveness has widely been studied with regard to partner choice, olfactory and auditory cues have received less attention, even though they might influence the attitudes that people have towards their partner. Therefore, in this study, we employed a combination of pre-date multimodal rating tasks followed by speed-date sessions. This offered a naturalistic setup to study partner choice and disentangle the relative effects of a priori attractiveness ratings of sight, scent and sound on date success. Visual attractiveness ratings showed a strong positive correlation with propensity to meet the partner again, while the effects of olfactory and auditory attractiveness were negligible or not robust. Furthermore, we found no robust sex differences in the importance of the three modalities. Our findings underscore the relative importance of visual attractiveness in initial mate choice, but do not corroborate the idea that static pre-date measures of auditory and olfactory attractiveness can predict first date outcomes.
... Finally, in line with previous literature (e.g., Croy et al., 2010; Ferdenzi et al., 2008;Havlicek et al., 2008;Seo et al., 2011), women appeared to be more attentive and reactive to odors, to show a higher interest in the sense of smell, and to report a higher awareness toward social odors than men. Indeed, it is documented that women present higher olfactory abilities (Doty and Cameron, 2009), intensified neural processing of social odors (Pause et al., 2010), as well as higher odor awareness (Ferdenzi et al., 2008), higher interest in the sense of smell (Seo et al., 2011), and higher importance of olfaction Havlicek et al., 2008). ...
... Finally, in line with previous literature (e.g., Croy et al., 2010; Ferdenzi et al., 2008;Havlicek et al., 2008;Seo et al., 2011), women appeared to be more attentive and reactive to odors, to show a higher interest in the sense of smell, and to report a higher awareness toward social odors than men. Indeed, it is documented that women present higher olfactory abilities (Doty and Cameron, 2009), intensified neural processing of social odors (Pause et al., 2010), as well as higher odor awareness (Ferdenzi et al., 2008), higher interest in the sense of smell (Seo et al., 2011), and higher importance of olfaction Havlicek et al., 2008). Likewise, attention and imagery of odors have been found to increase with age. ...
Article
Background Diminished olfactory functioning has been reported in depression, whereas evidence in anxiety disorders is still controversial. Olfactory meta-cognitive abilities (i.e., olfactory awareness, imagery and reactivity, and the importance of odors) are essential in shaping olfaction. Few studies examined these meta-cognitive abilities in relation to depressive, anxiety, and social anxiety symptoms, and none of them considered the awareness of social odors (i.e., body odors). Methods This pre-registered study examined the relationship between olfactory meta-cognitive abilities and symptoms of depression, general anxiety, and social anxiety in 429 individuals. Self-report measures of symptoms of depression, general anxiety, and social anxiety, along with self-report olfactory meta-cognitive scales, were collected using an online survey. Results Linear regression analyses revealed that olfactory awareness and importance of common odors were significantly directly predicted by symptoms of general anxiety, while affective importance to odors was negatively predicted by symptoms of depression. Regarding social odors, higher symptoms of depression and lower symptoms of social anxiety predicted increased awareness. Limitations Higher prevalence of women and narrow age range of the participants. Depressive and anxiety symptoms were assessed only with self-report questionnaires. Conclusions Symptoms of anxiety seem to be associated with higher levels of common odor awareness, corroborating the importance of olfactory functions in anxiety. In addition, results on social odors seem to reflect dysfunctional social behaviour that characterized symptoms of depression and social anxiety. Hence, the assessment of meta-cognitive abilities may represent a useful tool in the prevention and assessment of depressive, anxiety, and social anxiety symptoms.
... Nonetheless, when thoroughly (albeit still rarely) assessed, individuals in WEIRD societies show evidence of great attention and reactivity to body odours in communicative contexts (e.g. [42][43][44]). ...
... For example, women appear to be either less desensitized or more sensitized than men [65], probably because they are culturally induced to be more concerned by odour-related safety and cleanliness issues for themselves and those who depend on them [66], especially at certain stages of their reproductive career (e.g. mating, pregnancy, parenting) [44,67,68]. ...
Article
Although anthropologists frequently report the centrality of odours in the daily lives and cultural beliefs of many small-scale communities, Western scholars have historically considered the sense of smell as minimally involved in human communication. Here, we suggest that the origin and persistence of this latter view might be a consequence of the fact that most research is conducted on participants from Western societies who, collectively, were rather old (adults), deodorized and desensitized (ODD) to various aspects of olfactory perception. The view is rapidly changing, however, and this themed issue provides a timely overview of the current state-of-the-art on human chemocommunication. Based on evolutionary models of communication, the papers cover both general mechanisms of odour production by ‘senders’ and odour perception by ‘receivers’. Focus on specific functional contexts includes reciprocal impact of odours between infants and mothers, the role of odour in mate choice and how odours communicate emotion and disease. Finally, a position paper outlines pitfalls and opportunities for the future, against the context of the replication crisis in psychology. We believe a more nuanced view of human chemical communication is within our grasp if we can continue to develop inter-disciplinary insights and expand research activities beyond ODD people. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Olfactory communication in humans’.
... To increase the sensitivity of detection of possible effects, we recruited only female raters. This is because on average, women achieve higher scores on various aspects of olfactory perception (for a review, see Brand and Millot, 2001) and they tend to place higher importance on body odor when choosing a potential partner (Havlicek et al., 2008). Participation criteria were good respiratory health and no use of hormonal contraception. ...
... In future studies, we recommend using less common vaccines in order to facilitate recruitment of naive participants. Similar, to most body odor studies, we recruited only female raters to Study 1, because they tend to place higher importance on body odor when choosing romantic partners (Havlicek et al., 2008). In Study 2, we included body odor donors and raters of both sexes. ...
Article
Previous studies have shown that women perceive male faces with a more reactive immune system as more attractive, but whether body odor might likewise provide cues to immune function has not been investigated yet. These two studies tested a possible relationship between body odor quality and immunoreactivity (Study 1) and immune system function (Study 2). In Study 1, we collected body odor samples from 21 men just before and two weeks after vaccination against hepatitis A/B and meningococcus. We determined the levels of specific antibodies (selected as markers of immune system’s reactivity), testosterone, and cortisol. Subsequently, 88 female raters assessed the samples for their attractiveness, intensity, and healthiness. In Study 2, we collected body odor and blood samples from 35 men and women. We assessed key parameters of their innate and adaptive immunity, such as complement activity or total lymphocyte T and B counts and asked 95 raters to assess the samples for their attractiveness, intensity, and healthiness. In Study 1, we found no significant association between antibody levels induced by vaccination and perceived body odor attractiveness, intensity, and healthiness. We also found no significant relationship between antibody levels and steroid hormones (testosterone and cortisol). In Study 2, we likewise found no association between basal key parameters (innate and adaptive) of the immune system and body odor quality. Our results indicate that body odor does not serve as a cue to the reactivity of the immune system.
... By reviewing the previous literature on social odors and the existing olfactory scales [2, 21-23] we could identify four types of social odors that occur in individuals' everyday life. First, romantic partner odor: social odors play an important role in mate selection by affecting desirability [10,[26][27][28] with this process being only partially subconscious, as both men and women seem aware of using odors in their mate choice [29]. Second, odors of familiars or significant others: these social odors provide a feeling of security and familiarity and help the relationship maintenance [30][31][32][33][34]. Familiar social odors include odors from significant others, family members, and friends [16, 18,[35][36][37]. ...
... This result is in line with studies showing a gender difference in various metacognitive abilities related to odors. For instance, women reported higher odor awareness [72], higher interest in the sense of smell [75], and higher importance of olfaction [21,29] than male. This is in addition to an overall better olfactory performance [76]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The degree of attention individuals pay to olfactory cues (called odor awareness) influences the role of odors in everyday life. Particularly, odors produced by the human body (i.e., social odors) are able to carry a wide variety of information and to elicit a broad spectrum of emotional reactions, making them essential in interpersonal relationships. Hence, despite the assessment of awareness toward social odors is crucial, a proper tool is still lacking. Here, we designed and initially validated the Social Odor Scale (SOS), a 12-item scale designed to measure the individual differences in awareness towards different social odors. In Study 1, an exploratory factor analysis (EFA; KMO test: MSA = 0.78; Bartlett’s test: χ ² (78) = 631.34, p < 0.001; Chi-squared test: χ ² (42) = 71.84, p = 0.003) suggests that the three factors structure was the model that best fit with the Italian version of the scale. The confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) supports a second-order model with one higher-order factor representing social odor awareness in general and three lower-order factors representing familiar, romantic partner, and stranger social odors. The final version of the scale presented a good fit (RMSEA = 0.012, SRMR = 0.069, CFI = 0.998, TLI = 0.997). In Study 2, CFA was performed in the German version of the scale confirming the validity of scale structure. Study 3 and 4 revealed that SOS total score and its subscales were positively correlated with other validated olfactory scales, but not with olfactory abilities. Moreover, SOS was found to be related to the gender of the participants: women reported to be more aware to social odors and, specifically, to familiar social odors than men. Overall, the results indicated that SOS is a valid and reliable instrument to assess awareness toward social odors in everyday life.
... Congruently with our results, a recent meta-analysis indeed suggests that women tend to have better odor discrimination performance in comparison with men (Sorokowski et al. 2019). These sex differences may be driven by a panoply of factors, including hormonal influences (Doty and Cameron 2009), expertise and odor awareness (Havlicek et al. 2008;Smeets et al. 2008), as well as social and cognitive factors (Sorokowski et al. 2019). For instance, women seem to rely and value more odor cues and have general higher odor awareness in comparison with men (Demattè et al. 2011;Havlicek et al. 2008). ...
... These sex differences may be driven by a panoply of factors, including hormonal influences (Doty and Cameron 2009), expertise and odor awareness (Havlicek et al. 2008;Smeets et al. 2008), as well as social and cognitive factors (Sorokowski et al. 2019). For instance, women seem to rely and value more odor cues and have general higher odor awareness in comparison with men (Demattè et al. 2011;Havlicek et al. 2008). This may reflect an advantage in odor discrimination, since they probably pay more attention to distinct odors and their features (Smeets et al. 2008), facilitating also important processes for this task, such as odor memory and learning (Arshamian et al. 2011). ...
Article
Full-text available
Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as autism traits (AT), have been associated with altered sensory processing. However, the role of AT in olfactory processing is still unclear. We analyzed the impact of AT and trait anxiety (TANX), relevant in the context of autism and olfactory perception, in the olfactory abilities of a nonclinical adult sample. Participants (N = 116) completed the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ), the State-Trait Inventory for Cognitive and Somatic Anxiety (STICSA) and the Sniffin’ Sticks Extended Test to measure AT, TANX and olfactory abilities, respectively. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis suggested that women and higher scores on the Attention to Detail subscale of AQ were associated with better odor discrimination, and higher somatic TANX was related to poorer odor discrimination.
... Moreover, sex differences for the importance of different sensory cues have previously been reported in sighted individuals across cultures. Here, two studies from the US and the Czech Republic found that men consider visual cues most important, whereas women rate olfaction as the most important sense for mate choice (Havlicek et al., 2008;Herz & Inzlicht, 2002). The heightened importance of odor for women in particular might be ascribed to the role odor plays in determining genetic quality and compatibility (Havlicek & Roberts, 2009). ...
... As expected, visual cues were most important for sighted males, perhaps because they provide more direct information about a partner's age and fertility than auditory information arising from voice (Buss, 2006;Havlicek et al., 2008;Moyse, 2014). Visual cues were less important for blind males, probably because they could not be directly assessed and therefore do not offer useful information. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cross-cultural research has repeatedly demonstrated sex differences in the importance of different partner traits when choosing a mate. Here, men typically report higher preferences for younger, more physically attractive women, while women prefer men that are wealthier and of higher status. As the assessment of such partner characteristics often relies on visual cues, this raises the question whether visual experience is necessary in order for sex-specific mate preferences to develop. To shed more light onto the emergence of sex differences in mate choice, the current study assesses how preferences for attractiveness, resources, and personality factors differ between sighted and blind individuals. We further investigate the role of social factors and sensory cue selection in these sex-specific differences. Our sample consisted of 94 participants, 19 blind/28 sighted males, and 19 blind/28 sighted females. Results replicated well-documented findings in the sighted, with men placing more importance on physical attractiveness and women placing more importance on status and resources. However, while physical attractiveness was less important to blind men, blind women considered physical attractiveness as important as sighted women. The importance of a high status and similar personality was not influenced by sightedness. Blind individuals considered auditory cues more important than visual cues, while sighted males showed the opposite pattern. A good odor was generally rated as more important than other cues. Further, relationship status and indirect, social influences were related to preferences. Overall, our findings shed light on the emergence of sex-differences in mate preference by evaluating the influence previous exposure to certain partner characteristics has on the emergence of mate preferences.
... Finally, studies have usually analyzed samples from the USA and Europe. However, some cultural differences have been found regarding the sensory preference (e.g., Havlíček et al., 2008;Marcinkowska et al., 2014;Scott et al., 2014), thus showing the necessity of studies from different localities and cross-cultural research. ...
... As our study sample was relatively small and conducted on a specific population (Brazilian men and women), further studies are needed. Different populations can show distinct results in perception of faces, voices, and other sensory modalities, as shown by previous studies (e.g., Havlíček et al., 2008;Marcinkowska et al., 2014). Further, we collected samples in artificial environment, and recruited mostly university students. ...
Article
Multicomponent stimuli improve information reception. In women, perceived facial and vocal femininity-masculinity (FM)are concordant; however, mixed results are found for men. Some feminine and masculine traits are related to sex hormone action and can indicate reproductive qualities. However, most of the current research about human mate choice focuses on isolated indicators, especially visual assessment of faces. We therefore examined the cross-modal concordance hypothesis by testing correlations between perceptions of FM based on facial, vocal, and behavioral stimuli. Standardized facial pictures, vocal recordings and dance videos of 38 men and 41 women, aged 18–35 years, were rated by 21 male and 43 female students, aged 18–35 years, on 100-point scale (0 = very feminine; 100 = very masculine). All participants were Brazilian students from University of Sao Paulo. In women, facial and vocal FM correlated positively, suggesting concordant information about mate quality. Such results were not found in men, indicating multiple messages, which agree with women's multifaceted preference for male FM. In both sexes, FM of dance did not correlate with voices or faces, indicating different information and distinct process of development. We thus partially supported the cross-modal concordance hypothesis.
... This gender variation is also in line with women's superior olfactory function. It has been found that women pay more attention to olfaction or odor [15,17]. Women not only show higher olfactory sensitivity [38] but also are more susceptible to olfactory problems than men [13]. ...
... As the number of olfactory neurons declines with age, the elderly have inferior olfactory function to the young, which might affect their body odor sniffing behaviors [10,21]. Besides, body odor plays a significant role in partner choice [23,47] and sexual interest and arousal [15,17,18]. From an evolutionary perspective, young people have greater needs for mate selection and reproduction, and thus may use more body odor cues compared to older people. ...
Article
Objectives Body odor can convey much information about an individual and thus we frequently engage in sniffing one's own and other people's body odor. However, there is scarce evidence on the within- and cross-cultural variation in body odor sniffing behaviors and no psychometric scale for specifically measuring such behaviors. Hence, our study aimed to develop the Body Odor Sniffing Questionnaire (BOSQ) and used it to make a cross-cultural comparison. Methods In Study 1, 2,026 participants were recruited from our university, with one half used for exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to examine the factor structure of the BOSQ (sample 1) and the other half used for confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to verify the factor structure (sample 2). In Study 2, 352 Chinese and 254 US participants were recruited to complete the BOSQ through Wenjuanxing and Amazon Mechanical Turk, enabling comparison of body odor sniffing behaviors across two cultures. Results The Study 1 results showed that the BOSQ comprises 17 items in three factors: self-private body odor, others’ body odor, and self-common body odor. The CFA results further supported that this three-factor model was a good fit. The Study 2 results showed that US participants scored higher overall and on the self-private body odor and others’ body odor dimensions, whereas Chinese participants scored higher on the self-common body odor dimension. Conclusions The BOSQ demonstrated good reliability and validity, which is a useful tool for evaluating individuals’ body odor sniffing behaviors. Cross-cultural difference existed as the US population reported a higher prevalence of body odor sniffing behavior, compared to the Chinese population.
... Olfactory cues are also considered to moderate mate selection because they may help to prevent inbreeding (Weisfeld et al., 2003) and possibly aid in selecting heterozygous mates (Lübke & Pause, 2015;Winternitz et al., 2017). The sense of smell may also uniquely influence sexual desire and sexual arousal in both men and women (Havlicek et al., 2008;Herz & Inzlicht, 2002;Lübke & Pause, 2015). Body odors provide chemical signals that convey information on physical attraction (Lübke & Pause, 2015;Roberts et al., 2011;Thornhill et al., 2013). ...
... More importantly, these correlations were consistent across sexes and cultures. Our findings regarding differences between men and women in the importance of olfaction are consistent with those of previous studies, which also found that women placed more value on olfaction and odors than did men in both sexual and non-sexual contexts (Croy et al., 2010;Havlicek et al., 2008;Herz & Cahill, 1997, 2002. Women also presented higher prevalence of body odor sniffing. ...
Article
Full-text available
Olfactory sensations contribute to sexual desire and sexual behavior. However, the degree to which individual importance of olfactory function and body odors relate to sexual desire is not known. This study was conducted to preliminarily examine these relationships among Chinese college students (N = 1903) via the Importance of Olfaction Questionnaire, the Body Odor Sniffing Questionnaire, and the Sexual Desire Inventory, which were used to measure subjective significance of olfaction, frequency of sniffing self or others, and sexual desire, respectively. Individuals who assigned higher importance to olfaction or engaged more in body odor sniffing showed stronger sexual desire. We further explored these associations in different cultures to determine whether cultural consistency existed. We conducted a second study to make cross-cultural comparisons between Indian (N = 313) and US (N = 249) populations. For both countries, a higher importance placed on olfaction and a higher prevalence of body odor sniffing were consistently associated with stronger sexual desire. In conclusion, our study confirmed that people who placed more value on olfactory function or engaged more in body odor sniffing showed stronger sexual desire. These correlations were consistent for both sexes and across different cultures, further indicating the importance of olfaction in sexuality.
... By reviewing the previous literature on social odors and the existing olfactory scales [2, 21-23] we could identify four types of social odors that occur in individuals' everyday life. First, romantic partner odor: social odors play an important role in mate selection by affecting desirability [10,[26][27][28] with this process being only partially subconscious, as both men and women seem aware of using odors in their mate choice [29]. Second, odors of familiars or significant others: these social odors provide a feeling of security and familiarity and help the relationship maintenance [30][31][32][33][34]. Familiar social odors include odors from significant others, family members, and friends [16, 18,[35][36][37]. ...
... This result is in line with studies showing a gender difference in various metacognitive abilities related to odors. For instance, women reported higher odor awareness [72], higher interest in the sense of smell [75], and higher importance of olfaction [21,29] than male. This is in addition to an overall better olfactory performance [76]. ...
Preprint
The degree of attention individuals pay to olfactory cues (called odor awareness) influence the role of odors in everyday life. Particularly, odors produced by the human body (i.e., social odors) are able to carry a wide variety of information and to elicit a broad spectrum of emotional reactions, making them essential in interpersonal relationships. Hence, despite the assessment of awareness toward social odors is crucial, a proper tool is still lacking. Here, we designed and validated the Social Odor Scale (SOS), a measure to assess the individual differences in awareness towards different social odors. In Study 1, an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) supports the initially developed four factor structure of the Italian version of the scale. In Study 2, EFA was performed in the German version of the scale confirming the validity of scale structure. Finally, a confirmatory factor analysis (Study 4) corroborates the construct validity of the SOS and its subscales. Hence, the final version of SOS is composed of 16 items, four for each subscale: own, familiar, romantic partner, and stranger social odors. Study 3 and 4 revealed that SOS total score and its subscales were positively correlated with other validated olfactory scales, but not with olfactory abilities. Moreover, SOS was found to reflect the inter-individual variability that characterize social odor processing: SOS was related to age, gender and reproductive state of the participants. Overall, the results indicated that SOS is a valid and reliable instrument to assess awareness toward social odors in everyday life.
... Furthermore, from a functional perspective, it may be that detection of cues of men's nutritional state by women is more advantageous than the reverse, because of its potential to inform women about a potential mate's ability to provide direct benefits. Indeed, this is a leading theoretical explanation for higher average olfactory function in women than men [6,9,21]. These considerations raise the possibility that our sample may be subject to selection bias, as those participants who volunteered (or even considered) to take part in this specific study might be healthier and fitter than average. ...
Article
Previous studies on various vertebrates have shown that quantity and quality of food intake affect odour attractiveness as perceived by potential mates. In humans, the quality of body odour is similarly affected by ingested foods, such as by variation in meat and garlic intake. Nevertheless, it is not known whether quantity of food has an impact on human body odour attractiveness. Thus, here we tested how 48 h of complete caloric intake restriction affects the hedonic quality of human axillary odour. Odour samples (cotton pads fixed in both armpits and worn for 12 h) were obtained from healthy female donors across three conditions: i) during their habitual food regime; ii) after 48 h of complete caloric intake restriction (drinking water was provided), and iii) 72 h after restoration of caloric intake. Axillary samples were assessed by male raters regarding their pleasantness, attractiveness, femininity, and intensity. We also collected blood samples to assess physiological changes due to dietary restriction (e.g., glucose, sodium, albumin, and triacylglyceride assays) and anthropometric measurements at the same intervals as body odour samples. We found no differences in pleasantness, attractiveness and intensity between the odour samples collected at baseline and during complete caloric intake restriction. Interestingly, we found that body odours were rated more pleasant, more attractive and less intense after restoration of food intake as compared to the baseline and during caloric restriction. Our results suggest that restoration of food intake positively influences hedonic quality of human body odour which might thus provide cues to current fitness status and metabolic efficiency.
... All in all, these findings suggest that female raters -those considered the most sensitive smeller (e.g. [23],) -are able to report on BOmediated ethnicity only by using a pleasantness/arousal perceptual strategy and that their odor judgements are not significantly influenced by the cognitive triggering of the ethnicity bias. Based on this evidence, two questions arise: i) is the BO collected from women not strong enough to produce differences that can be accessed explicitly? ...
Article
Individuals of African and Caucasian descent show different chemical signatures in their body odors (BO). Does such biological difference have a perceptual correlate? We tested BO donors and raters of Afro-Portuguese (AP) and Caucasian (C) descent to investigate whether olfactory ratings reveal an ethnic bias and whether olfactory ethnic discrimination is possible. C (vs. AP) women rated the C BO as more pleasant, even when controlling for intensity. The C BO labelled as AP was rated as more intense by C raters. Although discriminability of ethnicity and sex is at chance, a nominal advantage for AP vs. C BO emerges.
... Scientists have no doubts that olfaction is of great importance for human interpersonal relationships and mating [19][20][21][22], regulation of emotions and behavior [23][24][25], learning and cognitive processes [26][27][28]. Functionality of olfactory system is profoundly associated with Parkinson's disease [29][30][31], Alzheimer's disease [32][33][34], and depression [35,36]. ...
Purpose For functionally anosmic subjects, the sense of smell is basically useless in daily activities—they are unlikely to detect the threatening smell of rotten food, gas or smoke, or to enjoy the flavor of food or the smell of perfumes. Although this appears very distressing, functionally anosmic subjects in our sample seemed not to be aware or bothered with impaired olfaction and enrolled for the study targeted to people with a normal sense of smell. Methods In the large sample of 9139 subjects who declared themselves to have a normal sense of smell, we have retrospectively found a notable proportion of scores indicating functional anosmia. Results When we look at the overall Sniffin’ Sticks score, 0.45% of the sample was functionally anosmic and this fraction increased to 3.4% when the identification score of 8 points and below was used. We present demographical information of those subjects, who despite their inability to use smell in daily life, consider themselves healthy. Conclusions Data offer a new perspective on the importance of olfaction in daily life and supports the notion about the importance of using screening tools in clinical practice.
... One possibility is that the reports indeed reflect girls' greater reliance on their sense of smell compared to that of boys'. This would be in line with previous studies in children [6,8] and adults [3,[33][34][35][36][37]. For example, in a cross-cultural study of Finnish and French children [8], girls reported greater attention and reactivity to everyday odours than boys. ...
Article
Conducting interviews about children’s olfactory behaviours offers a feasible way of learning about the earliest perceptions and knowledge of one’s odour world. However, little is known about the stability and development of such self-reports. Here we present the first longitudinal study to repeatedly test children’s odour awareness in five waves over a two-year period. We expected that higher scores would be attained by girls relative to boys and by older children compared to younger ones and that the scores would increase further into the study. We found a linear time-related increase in the total COBEL scores and in the food and environmental components, whereas awareness of social odours decreased over time. Girls were more olfaction-oriented in the context of social and environmental, but not food, odours. All the reported effects were small. The age at which the children entered the study did not affect their scores. We suggest that the unexpected findings regarding social odours warrant replication in particular and extension in longitudinal studies carried out over a broader time span. Fulltext available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2019.02.035
... How a person smells plays an important role in partner choice. This is indicated for example by the high rank of importance given to the person's odor among different sensory signals and personality traits [15], especially in women [15,16]. ...
Article
There is increasing evidence that human body odor is involved in interpersonal communication. However, among the wide variety of substances excreted by the human body that might act as chemosignals, much attention has been granted to androstenes to the detriment of other categories. Here, we focused on the acidic fraction of human body odor. We investigated men and women's perceptual descriptions and detection thresholds of the sexually dimorphic (male) compound 3-hydroxy-3-methylhexanoic acid (HMHA) in two contrasted cultures, France and Madagascar. Perceptual responses to HMHA in both countries were very similar. HMHA proved to be more typical of body odor than another chemically-related major compound of human body odor 3MHA (3-methylhex-2-enoic acid also known as 3M2H). A significant portion of the samples studied (between 8 and 19%) was likely to be anosmic to HMHA (and to 3MHA: 25%). Although differences would be expected between men and women's perceptual responses to HMHA, based on the assumption that this compound would have a function in human partner choice, no sex differences were found for any of the perceptual variables. However, in Malagasy women, perceived intensity of HMHA was higher in participants who were in the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle. Whether HMHA is relevant in the perception of a potential partner thus requires further explorations, with more implicit approaches for example and/or by investigating the repercussions of HMHA specific anosmia on interpersonal relationships.
... For example, sex is one of the characteristics potentially modulating sensitivity with this regard. Female olfactory abilities are higher than male (for a recent meta-analysis see: [49]), and women declare [18][19][20] and actually exhibit [8,30] stronger reactions to social chemosignals than men. Additionally, they can be more accurate than men when assessing some emotions [6], and personality traits [48] based on body odor samples. ...
... There has also been a focus on the role of cues that, to varying extent, may be relevant to mate choice. People appear to attribute great importance to a partner's body odour (Havlíček et al. 2008), and body odours contain cues related to, for example, menstrual cycle stage Singh and Bronstad 2001), genetic compatibility ), health status (Moshkin et al. 2012;Olsson et al. 2014), diet quality (Fialová et al. 2013;Havlíček and Lenochova 2006), social status (Havlíček et al. 2005), and personality (Sorokowska 2013). ...
Chapter
Humans were once considered to be microsmatic, but recent research suggests that we can use our sense of smell to detect important, socially relevant information about conspecifics. However, much of the research conducted todate has investigated natural, fragrance free human body odours. While this is important in order to understand the evolution of olfactory communication in humans, it fails to account for the current (and historical) widespread use of artificial fragrances. In this chapter, we outline ways in which extraneous artificial fragrances may augment the underlying body odour, or ‘odour space’ of an individual, and how this might influence the perception of socially relevant information. In doing so, we describe some specific mechanisms for the interaction between body odours and artificial fragrances (blending and masking) and we discuss some recent work which has attempted to distinguish between these mechanisms.
... But human chemical communication has been most extensively studied in the context of mate choice, mostly by investigating perceived attractiveness and preferences for a potential reproductive partner. Studies using self-reports show that body odour is rated as a key factor in a person's attractiveness when compared with several sensory and behavioural characteristics of a potential partner [16], although mainly in female raters [16,17]. Studies in patients with olfactory disorders show that olfactory loss has serious adverse effects on the quality of social interactions (see [18]), such as partnership insecurity or decreased sexual activity [19]. ...
Article
Many species use chemicals to communicate. In humans, there is increasing evidence that chemicals conveyed by the body are extremely important in interpersonal relationships. However, many aspects of chemical communication remain to be explored to fully understand this function in humans. The aim of this article is to identify relevant challenges in this field, with a focus on human attractiveness in the context of reproduction, and to put forward roadmaps for future studies that will hopefully extend to a wider range of social interactions. The first challenge consists in not being limited to body (mal)odours from the axilla. Preliminary data on how the odour of the face and head is perceived are presented. Second, there is a crucial need to increase our knowledge of the chemical bases of human chemical communication. Third, cross-cultural approaches must not be overlooked, because they have a major input in understanding the universal and culture-specific aspects of chemical communication. Fourth, the influence of specific cultural practices such as contraceptive and fragrance use is likely to be prominent and, therefore, needs to be well described. The fifth and last challenge for research projects in this field is the integration of different disciplines such as behavioural sciences, social sciences, neurosciences and microbiology. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Olfactory communication in humans’.
... This particular structure builds on a clear evolutionary rationale. The female biological compatibility test works toward the screening of the possible male partners from the viewpoint of the compatibility of their genetic endowment with the female one [63], and is carried out through the elaboration of a vast array of diverse signals, from physical aspect to posture, movement, voice pitch, bodily energy, expressive intensity, and haptic feel, with a special sensitivity toward those signals that transmit chemical information, such as smell and taste [64,65], or toward somatic traits associated with masculinity [66]. It is important to emphasize how the compatibility does not refer to characters that conform to a social standard of desirability-it rather prompts a subjective, unexpected, uncalculated response. ...
Article
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We introduce a typological characterization of possible human heterosexual couples in terms of the concordance-opposition of the orientations of their active and receptive areas as defined by the tie-up theory. We show that human mating incentives, as characterized by widely adopted approaches, such as Becker’s marriage market approach, only capture very specific instances of actual couples thus characterized. Our approach allows us to instead explore how super-cooperation among partners vs. convenience vs. constriction may be regarded as alternatives modes of couple formation and cohesion, leading to very different types of couples with different implications in terms of stability and resilience. Our results may have interesting implications for future experimental research and for individual and family counseling.
... Such tests are meant to include only odors of highly familiar items (Hummel et al., 1997. As women exhibit higher olfactory awareness (Herz and Inzlicht, 2002;Havlicek et al., 2008), they probably pay attention and memorize odors of these familiar items more frequently than men (Smeets et al., 2008). Studies show that indeed, women are more prone to an increase in sensitivity to certain odorants as a result of exposure to these smells (Dalton et al., 2002;Boulkroune et al., 2007). ...
Article
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Although the view that women's olfactory abilities outperform men's is taken for granted, some studies involving large samples suggested that male and female olfactory abilities are actually similar. To address this discrepancy, we conducted a meta-analysis of existing studies on olfaction, targeting possible sex differences. The analyzed sample comprised n = 8 848 (5 065 women and 3 783 men) for olfactory threshold (as measured with the Sniffin Sticks Test; SST), n = 8 067 (4 496 women and 3 571 men) for discrimination (SST), n = 13 670 (7 501 women and 6 169 men) for identification (SST), and a total sample of n = 7 154 (3 866 women and 3 288 men) for works using University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT). We conducted separate meta-analyses for each aspect of olfaction: identification, discrimination and threshold. The results of our meta-analysis indicate that women generally outperform men in olfactory abilities. What is more, they do so in every aspect of olfaction analyzed in the current study. However, the effect sizes were weak and ranged between g = 0.08 and g = 0.30. We discuss our findings in the context of factors that potentially shape sex differences in olfaction. Nevertheless, although our findings seem to confirm the “common knowledge” on female olfactory superiority, it needs to be emphasized that the effect sizes we observed were notably small.
... No parallel evidence is currently available for such positive olfactory imprinting effects in human mate selection, although body odour is reported to influence seduction and sexual interaction, especially in females (at least in Western samples of young adults; [222][223][224]). One study on adult response to human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-covarying odour cues [225] hints in that direction, however. ...
Article
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The impact of the olfactory sense is regularly apparent across development. The fetus is bathed in amniotic fluid (AF) that conveys the mother’s chemical ecology. Transnatal olfactory continuity between the odours of AF and milk assists in the transition to nursing. At the same time, odours emanating from the mammary areas provoke appetitive responses in newborns. Odours experienced from the mother’s diet during breastfeeding, and from practices such as pre-mastication, may assist in the dietary transition at weaning. In parallel, infants are attracted to and recognize their mother’s odours; later, children are able to recognize other kin and peers based on their odours. Familiar odours, such as those of the mother, regulate the child’s emotions, and scaffold perception and learning through non-olfactory senses. During juvenility and adolescence, individuals become more sensitive to some bodily odours, while the timing of adolescence itself has been speculated to draw from the chemical ecology of the family unit. Odours learnt early in life and within the family niche continue to influence preferences as mate choice becomes relevant. Olfaction thus appears significant in turning on, sustaining and, in cases when mother odour is altered, disturbing adaptive reciprocity between offspring and carer during the multiple transitions of development between birth and adolescence. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Olfactory communication in humans’.
... The attractiveness of a partner's body odor was also positively correlated with relationship duration in men, despite an observed inability to correctly identify a sample as belonging to their partner. Self-report studies have shown that men attribute high importance to odors in sexual contexts (Havlicek et al., 2008;Herz and Cahill, 1997;Herz and Inzlicht, 2002), our study shows therefore that either liking of the body odor is so important for men as to have a positive effect on their relationship duration, or that mere exposure makes men learn to like a particular odor more. Our data suggests that the non-significant relationship we observed among female participants could likely be driven by the important biological qualities associated with body odors that might outweigh possible familiarity effects. ...
Article
The Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) is a gene complex that encodes important elements of the human immune system. HLA profile is communicated via olfaction and interindividual diversity is assumed to be advantageous for mate choice. Additionally, HLA diversity appears to enhance satisfaction and sexual attraction in existing romantic partnerships. However, whether this effect is transmitted via body odors and whether it results in an attraction towards HLA-dissimilar individuals and/or an avoidance of HLA-similar ones remains unclear. In the present study, we genotyped couples and asked each participant to rate a body odor sample from their Partner and from three strangers of the opposite sex who expressed a similar or dissimilar HLA-B and HLA-C genotype. We found no statistically significant preference for HLA similarity or dissimilarity in men. Among women, the observed effects differed depending on hormonal contraception status. Like men, women on hormonal contraception did not exhibit significant HLA-related preferences. However, for women not using hormonal contraceptives, odors from HLA-B and HLA-C similar donors were significantly less attractive than those from HLA dissimilar donors, regardless of whether the samples were from a partner or a stranger. Our findings support the hypothesis that HLA similarity is perceived via body odors and that such similarity affects human attraction. This mechanism may serve an evolutionarily adaptive function in preventing prospective offspring from having decreased immunocompetence, or decreasing the chance of kin mating.
... Although physical appearance certainly plays a prominent role (Groyecka et al., 2017;Herz & Inzlicht, 2002;Walter et al., 2020), the assessment of attractiveness in potential mating partners is undeniably multimodal. Research suggests that body odour (Havlíček et al., 2008;Roberts et al., 2011) and vocal cues (Hill & Puts, 2016;Pisanski, Feinberg, Oleszkiewicz, & Sorokowska, 2017;Zäske, Skuk, & Schweinberger, 2020) also contribute substantially to human mate preferences (Groyecka et al., 2017). However, studies that examine potential cross-modal congruency and redundancy of attractiveness judgments are scarce. ...
Article
Assessing the attractiveness of potential mating partners typically involves multiple sensory modalities, including the integration of olfactory, visual, and auditory cues. However, predictions diverge on how the individual modalities should relate to each other. According to the backup signals hypothesis, multimodal cues provide redundant information, whereas the multiple messages hypothesis suggests that different modalities provide independent and distinct information about an individual's mating-related quality. The backup signals hypothesis predicts a positive association between assessments based on different modalities, whereas no substantial correlation across modalities is expected under the multiple messageshypothesis. Previous studies testing the two hypotheses have provided mixed results, and a systematic evaluation is currently missing. We performed a systematic review and a meta-analysis of published and unpublished studies to examine the congruence in assessments between human body odour and facial attractiveness, and between body odour and vocal attractiveness. We found positive but weak associations between ratings of body odours and faces (r = 0.1, k = 25), and between body odours and voices (r = 0.1, k = 9). No sex differences were observed in the magnitude of effects. Compared to judgments of facial and vocal attractiveness, our results suggest that assessment of body odour provides independent and non-redundant information about human mating-related quality. Our findings thus provide little support for the backup signals hypothesis and may be better explained by the multiple messages hypothesis.
... For example, several studies suggest that the sense of smell plays a role in inbreeding avoidance (Wolf 1995;Weisfeld et al. 2003;Matchock and Susman 2006;Hochberg and Belsky 2013). In addition, women without contraceptive medication prefer the odor of men with dissimilar MHC constitution than their selves (Wedekind et al. 1995;Wedekind and Furi 1997) and olfaction in mate choice is more important to women compared to men (Herz and Inzlicht 2002;Havlicek et al. 2008). Different diseases have an individual odor (Liddell 1976;Brown 1995) and can hence be identified by humans (for review seePenn and Potts 1998; Penn and Potts 1998)). ...
Article
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Introduction The human sense of smell has different functions which can be categorized as “food,” “social,” and “environment.” Different questionnaires about the importance of olfaction in adults are available, but little attention has been paid to children and adolescents. Therefore, we aimed to develop a questionnaire about children’s personal significance of olfaction (ChiPSO). Methods The questionnaire was developed in two steps. The first questionnaire included 33 statements about the importance of olfactory information in daily life — covering three subscales “food,” “environment,” and “social” administered to 191 participants (mean age: 14.4 ± 1.7 years). The five best fitting items of each subscale were chosen for the final 15-item questionnaire. In the second part, we administered the developed questionnaire to 208 children and adolescents (mean age: 11.5 ± 3.5 years) who additionally underwent olfactory testing to investigate the association between olfactory function and questionnaire results. Participants were separated in two age groups: (i) 6–11 years (children), (ii) 12–17 years (adolescents). Results A significant influence of age on the total ChiPSO score and all three subscales with adolescents scoring higher than children was found. Additionally, there was a significant influence of sex in adolescents on total ChiPSO score and subscales “social” and “food” with girls scoring higher than boys. Conclusion We report an association between questionnaires results and olfactory performance. Additionally, olfactory information seems to be more important to adolescents compared to children and girls compared to boys. Implications The ChiPSO questionnaire is a practical tool to evaluate the importance of olfactory information in children and adolescents aged 6–17 years.
... Body odors may convey such a honest information as their saliency has been highlighted in mate selection Lübke and Pause, 2015;White and Cunningham, 2017), and in the establishment of romantic relationships (for review, see Mahmut and Croy, 2019). Body odor pleasantness and facial attractiveness correlate weakly but significantly in both men (axillary odor: Roberts et al., 2011;Carrito et al., 2017; whole torso odor conveyed on a t-shirt: Gangestad and Thornhill, 1998;Rikowski and Grammer, 1999;Thornhill and Gangestad, 1999) and women (whole torso odor: Rikowski and Grammer, 1999;Thornhill and Gangestad, 1999;Thornhill et al., 2003), even though when it comes to mate choice, women are reportedly more prone than men to rely on olfaction (Herz and Cahill, 1997;Herz and Inzlicht, 2002;Havlicek et al., 2008;White and Cunningham, 2017;but see Foster, 2008). ...
Article
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A recent body of research has emerged regarding the interactions between olfaction and other sensory channels to process social information. The current review examines the influence of body odors on face perception, a core component of human social cognition. First, we review studies reporting how body odors interact with the perception of invariant facial information (i.e., identity, sex, attractiveness, trustworthiness, and dominance). Although we mainly focus on the influence of body odors based on axillary odor, we also review findings about specific steroids present in axillary sweat (i.e., androstenone, androstenol, androstadienone, and estratetraenol). We next survey the literature showing body odor influences on the perception of transient face properties, notably in discussing the role of body odors in facilitating or hindering the perception of emotional facial expression, in relation to competing frameworks of emotions. Finally, we discuss the developmental origins of these olfaction-to-vision influences, as an emerging literature indicates that odor cues strongly influence face perception in infants. Body odors with a high social relevance such as the odor emanating from the mother have a widespread influence on various aspects of face perception in infancy, including categorization of faces among other objects, face scanning behavior, or facial expression perception. We conclude by suggesting that the weight of olfaction might be especially strong in infancy, shaping social perception, especially in slow-maturing senses such as vision, and that this early tutoring function of olfaction spans all developmental stages to disambiguate a complex social environment by conveying key information for social interactions until adulthood.
... Second, Brand and Millot (2001) suggested the effect of gender could be explained by the more regular exposure of women to scented products, which could be confirmed by studies demonstrating that mere exposure to odors can improve olfactory ability (see Sorokowska et al. 2017 for a meta-analysis). Moreover, some studies have shown that women are generally more interested in odors (Ferdenzi et al., 2008;Havlicek et al. 2008). Nevertheless, this assumption can be debated, as studies have shown that the superiority of women in olfactory tasks is not systematic (Sorokowska et al. 2015). ...
Article
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INTRODUCTION: Odor imagery is known to be more difficult than any other modality of sensory imagery. Consequently, wide between-individuals variability can be found in odor imagery ability. Several studies have shown a positive relationship between olfactory performance and odor imagery ability. In the light of factors known to influence smelling ability, this study therefore investigated the effects of two factors — gender and age — known to influence smelling ability, on self-declared odor imagery ability in normosmic individuals. METHODS: Seven hundred and nine French participants were asked to complete the web version of the French Vividness of Olfactory Imagery Questionnaire (fVOIQ). General linear models were used to determine the contributions of gender and age to odor imagery vividness scores. Moreover, scores were compared between age intervals ranging from 18–30 years old to 60 + years old. RESULTS: Our findings reveal that at any age, men and women have the same odor imagery ability. Odor imagery ability in self-declared normosmic individuals improves with age until 50–60 years old, and beyond this point the often-reported age-related olfactory decay does not alter it. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest a high contribution of daily olfactory experience to the development of this cognitive function, and a relationship with olfactory performance that appears less linear than hypothesized. IMPLICATIONS: This study provides food for thought in the field of olfaction: it suggests that distinct mechanisms may underlie two cognitive processes, perception and sensory imagery.
... where it is thought that heterosexual females assess potential partners more carefully than heterosexual males, and because smell is considered especially important to women in this regard (Havlicek et al., 2008), this directional sequence from male donor to female smeller would seem less https://doi.org/10.1017/ehs.2022.44 Published online by Cambridge University Press applicable to communication of emotion: both the sender and receiver of any emotional signal could be of either sex. ...
Article
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Recent work has demonstrated that human body odour alters with changing emotional state and that emotionally laden odours can affect the physiology and behaviour of people exposed to them. Here we review these discoveries, which we believe add to a growing recognition that the human sense of smell, and its potential role in social interactions, have been underappreciated. However, we also critically evaluate the current evidence, with particular focus on methodology and interpretation of emotional odour studies. We argue that while the evidence convincingly indicates that humans retain a capacity for olfactory communication of emotion, the extent to which this occurs in ordinary social interaction remains an open question. Future studies should place fewer restrictions on participant selection and lifestyle and adopt more realistic experimental designs. We also need to devote more consideration to underlying mechanisms and to recognise the constraints that these may place on effective communication. Finally, we outline some promising approaches to address these issues, and raise some broader theoretical questions that such approaches may help us to answer.
... Last, we want to note that attractiveness judgments are based on more than faces and voices. Odor cues (Havlicek et al., 2008;Lobmaier et al., 2018), visual perception of the body (Kościński, 2013), gaze direction (Ho et al., 2018;Kaisler et al., 2020), and emotional expression (Lindeberg et al., 2019;Kaisler et al., 2020) for example also play an important role and should be addressed in future studies. ...
Article
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Vocal and facial cues typically co-occur in natural settings, and multisensory processing of voice and face relies on their synchronous presentation. Psychological research has examined various facial and vocal cues to attractiveness as well as to judgements of sexual dimorphism, health, and age. However, few studies have investigated the interaction of vocal and facial cues in attractiveness judgments under naturalistic conditions using dynamic, ecologically valid stimuli. Here, we used short videos or audio tracks of females speaking full sentences and used a manipulation of voice pitch to investigate cross-modal interactions of voice pitch on facial attractiveness and related ratings. Male participants had to rate attractiveness, femininity, age, and health of synchronized audio-video recordings or voices only, with either original or modified voice pitch. We expected audio stimuli with increased voice pitch to be rated as more attractive, more feminine, healthier, and younger. If auditory judgements cross-modally influence judgements of facial attributes, we additionally expected the voice pitch manipulation to affect ratings of audiovisual stimulus material. We tested 106 male participants in a within-subject design in two sessions. Analyses revealed that voice recordings with increased voice pitch were perceived to be more feminine and younger, but not more attractive or healthier. When coupled with video recordings, increased pitch lowered perceived age of faces, but did not significantly influence perceived attractiveness, femininity, or health. Our results suggest that our manipulation of voice pitch has a measurable impact on judgements of femininity and age, but does not measurably influence vocal and facial attractiveness in naturalistic conditions.
... Even though the human sense of smell is much less sensitive, and olfaction seems to play a much lesser role in our lives compared to that of animals, and particularly dogs, there is a surprisingly high number of publications dedicated to smell preferences in humans, compared to the extremely low number of similar publications dedicated to dogs [12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]. Further, in other species, such as mice, in which olfaction plays a crucial role in many aspects of life, there are a number of publications related to olfaction, including smell preferences [22,23]. ...
Article
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The available evidence on dogs’ scent preferences is quite limited. The purpose of this study was to verify the canine response to selected odors that may also be preferred by humans. The experiment was performed using 14 adult dogs (10 female and 4 male) of different breeds, body size, and age (1–14 years). During the experiment, dogs were exposed to 33 odor samples: a neutral sample containing pure dipropylene glycol (control) and 32 samples containing dipropylene glycol and fragrance oils. The dog was brought to the experimental area by its handler, who then stopped at the entrance, unleashed the dog, and remained in the starting position. The dog freely explored the area for 30 s. All dog movements and behavior were recorded and analyzed. The methodology of observing the dogs freely exploring the experimental area allowed us to determine the smells that were the most attractive to them (food, beaver clothing). Our study shows that dogs interacted more frequently with the scents of blueberries, blackberries, mint, rose, lavender, and linalol.
... Smell emanations and volatile signatures are in this context related to metabolism processes. Amongst others, body odors are implicated in breastfeeding [107][108][109] and mate choice, [110] and both their production and perception can be expected to be shaped by odorant metabolism. ...
Article
Odorants are relatively small molecules which are easily taken up and distributed in the human body. Despite their relevance in everyday life, however, only a limited amount of evidence about their metabolism, pathways, and bioactivities in the human body exists. With this review, we aim to encourage future interdisciplinary research on the function and mechanisms of the biotransformation of odorants, involving different disciplines such as nutrition, medicine, biochemistry, chemistry, and sensory sciences. Starting with a general overview of the different ways of odorant uptake and enzymes involved in the metabolism of odorants, a more precise description of biotransformation processes and their function in the oral cavity, the nose, the lower respiratory tract (LRT), and the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is given together with an overview of the different routes of odorant excretion. Finally, perspectives for future research are discussed.
... Smell emanations and volatile signatures are in this context related to metabolism processes. Amongst others, body odors are implicated in breastfeeding [107][108][109] and mate choice, [110] and both their production and perception can be expected to be shaped by odorant metabolism. ...
Article
Full-text available
Odorants are relatively small molecules which are easily taken up and distributed in the human body. Despite their relevance in everyday life, however, only a limited amount of evidence about their metabolism, pathways, and bioactivities in the human body exists. With this review, we aim to encourage future interdisciplinary research on the function and mechanisms of the biotransformation of odorants, involving different disciplines such as nutrition, medicine, biochemistry, chemistry, and sensory sciences. Starting with a general overview of the different ways of odorant uptake and enzymes involved in the metabolism of odorants, a more precise description of biotransformation processes and their function in the oral cavity, the nose, the lower respiratory tract (LRT), and the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is given together with an overview of the different routes of odorant excretion. Finally, perspectives for future research are discussed.
... In our study, indeed, the females perceived the anise odor with higher intensity than the males. Several studies revealed that women care about olfaction more than men do, compared with other sensory modalities [116,117]. Furthermore, women are better at identifying and memorizing odors of various origins, such as food [21,118,119]. This difference may be due to the absolute total number of neuronal and non-neuronal cells, favoring women by 40-50% [120]. ...
Article
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Smell, which allows us to gather information about the hedonic value of an odor, is affected by many factors. This study aimed to assess the relationship among individual factors, odor sensitivity, and enjoyment, and to evaluate how overall flavor perception and liking in actual food samples are affected by odor sensitivity. A total of 749 subjects, from four different Italian regions, participated in the study. The olfactory capabilities test on four odors (anise, banana, mint, and pine), as well as PROP (6-n-prpyl-2-thiouracil) status and food neophobia were assessed. The subjects were clustered into three groups of odor sensitivity, based on the perceived intensity of anise. The liking and intensity of the overall flavor were evaluated for four chocolate puddings with increasing sweetness (C1, C2, C3, and C4). The individual variables significantly affected the perceived intensity and liking of the odors. Even if all of the odor sensitivity groups perceived the more intensely flavored samples as the C1 and C4 chocolate puddings, the high-sensitivity group scored the global flavor of all of the samples as more intense than the low-sensitivity group. The low-sensitive subjects evaluated the liking of the sweeter samples with higher scores than the moderate-sensitive subjects, whereas the high-sensitive subjects gave intermediate scores. In conclusion, odor sensitivity plays a pivotal role in the perception and liking of real food products; this has to be taken into account in the formulation of new products, suitable for particular categories with reduced olfactory abilities.
... Several studies have demonstrated the importance of body odor for human mating behavior (Havlicek et al., 2008;Herz and Cahill, 1997;Herz and Inzlicht, 2002;Lundström and Jones-Gotman, 2009;Pause et al., 2010;Sergeant et al., 2007;Trivers, 1972). As an example, humans seem to be able to detect, on the basis of body odors, whether potential mates have a similar or different immune system, allowing for the selection of mates that might produce offspring with a more diverse immune system (Milinski et al., 2013). ...
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There is growing evidence that humans use olfactory chemosensory signals for social communication, but their role in affective associative learning is largely unknown. To examine this, women implicitly learned face-odor associations by pairing different neutral male faces with either a male chemosignal presumably involved in human mating behavior (dissolved Δ4,16-androstadien-3-one, “AND”), a pleasant smell (dissolved vanillin) or the neutral solvent alone. After learning, women rated faces previously paired with AND or vanillin as more attractive than faces paired with solvent, even though they were unable to identify the contingency of face-odor pairings above chance level. On a neurophysiological level, both AND- and vanillin-associated faces evoked stronger magnetoencephalographic correlates of enhanced emotional attention than solvent-associated faces at early (<120 ms) and mid-latency (140-270 ms) processing stages. This study stresses the role of AND as a human chemosignal in implicit social communication and demonstrates its effectiveness in modulating emotional learning.
... There are also important differences between women and men in terms of scent sometimes having more of an influence over the perception and behaviour of women (Chen & Haviland-Jones, 2000;Doty et al., 1985; though see also Brand & Millot, 2001;Doty & Cameron, 2009;Koelega & Köster, 1974). Women have also been reported to rate smell as a more important sense in mate selection whereas men report valuing visual cues more highly (Havlíček et al., 2008;Herz & Inzlicht, 2002; though see also Johansson & Jones, 2007;Sorokowska, 2013). ...
Article
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In recent decades, there has been an explosion of research into the crossmodal influence of olfactory cues on multisensory person perception. Numerous peer-reviewed studies have documented that a variety of olfactory stimuli, from ambient malodours through to fine fragrances, and even a range of chemosensory body odours can influence everything from a perceiver’s judgments of another person’s attractiveness, age, affect, health/disease status, and even elements of their personality. The crossmodal and multisensory contributions to such effects are reviewed and the limitations/peculiarities of the research that have been published to date are highlighted. At the same time, however, it is important to note that the presence of scent (and/or the absence of malodour) can also influence people’s (i.e., a perceiver’s) self-confidence which may, in turn, affect how attractive they appear to others. Several potential cognitive mechanisms have been put forward to try and explain such crossmodal/multisensory influences, and some of the neural substrates underpinning these effects have now been characterized. At the end of this narrative review, a number of the potential (and actual) applications for, and implications of, such crossmodal/multisensory phenomena involving olfaction are outlined briefly.
... Although often undervalued, the sense of smell is important for human sexual life, because it processes axillary or genital odors that elicit hormonal changes and hypothalamic arousal (Lübke and Pause, 2015). Especially in women, the judgment of attractiveness and choosing a potential partner seem to depend on body odors (rather than other sensory cues) (Havlicek et al., 2008;Herz and Cahill, 1997;Lübke and Pause, 2015). Accordingly, patients with smell problems frequently state sexual and social problems (Merkonidis et al., 2015). ...
... Although often undervalued, the sense of smell is important for human sexual life, because it processes axillary or genital odors that elicit hormonal changes and hypothalamic arousal (Lübke and Pause, 2015). Especially in women, the judgment of attractiveness and choosing a potential partner seem to depend on body odors (rather than other sensory cues) (Havlicek et al., 2008;Herz and Cahill, 1997;Lübke and Pause, 2015). Accordingly, patients with smell problems frequently state sexual and social problems (Merkonidis et al., 2015). ...
Article
The aim of this study was to evaluate female rat sexual motivation in a model of diabetes mellitus type 1. Severe hyperglycemia was induced in ovariectomized Wistar rats by injecting streptozotocin [STZ, 100 mg/kg, i.p.]. Ten days later, females received estradiol benzoate (10 μg/rat, s.c.) plus progesterone (3 mg/rat, s.c.). A group of STZ-treated animals was administered with insulin (2–4 U) every 12 h for 10 days, which normalized glucose levels. In the partner preference (PP) and sexual incentive motivation (SIM) tests, control females spent more time close to a sexually experienced male (SE) than with a castrated male (CM). STZ-treated females stayed the same amount of time with both stimuli, that is, they lost their sexual preference. We also evaluated the sense of smell using two behavioral tests, one related to sexual odors (SO) and another one to food odors (FO). In the SO test, control females spent more time sniffing the sawdust coming from cages that contained SE males; hyperglycemic females remained the same amount of time sniffing the sawdust of both stimuli: SE and CM. In the FO test, no differences were found between control and STZ-treated groups. Insulin treatment reverted the changes observed in hyperglycemic females in the PP, SIM and SO tests. These data suggest that severe hyperglycemia decreases sexual motivation and that insulin recovers such diminution.
... In this respect, long-term consequences have to be considered, as feelings of insecurity and social anxiety are linked to lower self-esteem or social isolation (De Jong, Sportel, De Hullu, and Nauta 2012; Lim, Rodebaugh, Zyphur, and Gleeson 2016). Here, a special awareness should be raised towards young women, because women generally report to rely more on olfactory cues than men (Havlicek et al. 2008;Murr, Hummel, Ritschel, and Croy 2018) and because impeded olfactory function is assumed to be particularly crucial in young adult age, as this period is associated with formatting bonds towards mates or towards the own baby. ...
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The sense of smell essentially contributes to social communication, guides nutrition behaviour and elicits avoidance towards environmental hazards. Olfactory smell impairment may hence entail severe consequences for affected individuals. Compared with sensory loss in other modalities, reduced olfactory function is often unnoticed by those affected and diagnosed late. Those patients seeking help frequently suffer from long-term impairments resulting in reduced well-being and quality of life. The current review provides an overview of aetiology, prevalence and specifics of diagnostics in acquired and congenital olfactory loss and focusses on short- and long-term consequences. Compensation strategies are elaborated, and treatment options are mentioned. Individual characteristics associated with the development of serious mental health impairment are discussed in order to help practitioners identifying populations at risk.
... Our data support this finding and demonstrate that with increasing age, availability of these olfactory data may continue to drive sexual desire and quality of sexual experience. However, Herz and Cahill also found that olfaction is particularly salient to sexual attraction in young women compared to men, and this finding has been replicated for young women across different cultures 47 . We find that this gender difference is not present in older adults. ...
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Background Sensory function declines with age and may impact sexual function in older adults. Indeed, the sense of smell plays a uniquely strong role in sexual motivation. Therefore, olfactory dysfunction in older adults may be intimately linked to changes in sexual desire and satisfaction. Aim To test whether impaired olfactory function is associated with decreased sexual activity and motivation in older adults. Methods Cross-sectional analysis of a nationally representative sample of community-dwelling older U.S. adults from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. Outcomes 2 modalities of olfactory function were measured (sensitivity to n-butanol and odor identification) via validated methods (Sniffin’ Sticks). Respondents answered survey questions about frequency of sexual thoughts (motivation) and sexual activity, and satisfaction with their most recent sexual relationship. A wide range of demographic, health, and social information were also collected. Results Decreased olfactory function in older U.S. adults was associated with decreased sexual motivation (odds ratio 0.93, P = .03) and less emotional satisfaction with sex (odds ratio 0.89, P = .04), but not decreased frequency of sexual activity or physical pleasure, in analyses that were adjusted for age, gender, race, education, cognition, comorbidities, and depression. Clinical Implications Olfactory dysfunction may affect sexuality in older adults. Potentially treatable causes of sensory loss should be addressed by clinicians to improve quality of life. Strengths & Limitations These results rely on validated olfactory testing, detailed measures of sexual attitudes and behaviors, and extensive demographic, health, and social history in a nationally representative sample of older U.S. adults. Owing to the cross-sectional nature of these analyses, we cannot determine causality. Conclusions Olfactory dysfunction in older U.S. adults is associated with decreased sexual motivation and emotional satisfaction, potentially due to evolutionarily-conserved neurological links between olfaction and sexuality. Siegel JK, Kung SY, Wroblewski KE, et al. Olfaction Is Associated With Sexual Motivation and Satisfaction in Older Men and Women. J Sex Med 2020;XX:XXX–XXX.
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Although humans' sense of smell is relatively diminished compared to other species, olfaction is still a central sensory modality through which people evaluate both potential threats and prospective romantic partners. Despite olfaction's role in interpersonal relationships and disease avoidant responses, however, it remains unknown whether variation in olfactory acuity is associated with disease- and mating-relevant psychological constructs and behaviors. In the current exploratory study, we examined the relationships between olfactory acuity, disgust sensitivity, and mating strategies in a sample of undergraduate students (N = 162) at a university in the Southern United States using an extended assessment of olfactory acuity (measuring olfactory threshold, discrimination, and identification). Results revealed that people with greater discrimination acuity were higher in dispositional sexual disgust, but not pathogen or moral disgust. People with greater discrimination acuity were also less inclined towards short-term mating. Further, sexual disgust mediated the relationship between discrimination acuity and short-term mating orientation. These results provide further evidence for the importance of olfaction and olfaction-related disgust in close relationships.
Thesis
L’humain moderne vit une transformation de son environnement et de son mode de vie qui impactent la façon dont il peut vivre des expériences de nature au quotidien. Or, ces expériences de nature sont d'une grande importance pour le bien-être et la santé des individus. Ce sont des phénomènes complexes, ancrés dans un contexte environnemental, mais aussi socio-culturel, qui reposent sur des composantes étroitement mêlées que sont les émotions, les souvenirs, les connaissances, mais aussi tous les stimuli sensoriels perçus. Parmi les sens mobilisés, l’odorat, de par son importance mémorielle et émotionnelle, semble jouer un rôle à part dans la relation que tisse l’humain à la nature. C’est à ce rôle de l’olfaction dans l’expérience de nature, à cette part olfactive de l’expérience, que s’intéresse cette thèse s’articulant autour de trois axes de recherches et de réflexion. Dans un premier chapitre, ce manuscrit aborde comment caractériser la part olfactive de l’expérience de nature d’un point de vue individuel. La réflexion de ce chapitre se base sur la mise en œuvre et l’analyse des réponses à un questionnaire articulant entre eux l’olfaction, l’identité et les usages sensoriels d’espaces de nature déclarés par les individus. Dans le deuxième chapitre, c’est la façon dont l’expérience olfactive de nature s’ancre dans un environnement et un contexte qui est abordée, et comment cet ancrage influence la façon dont l’individu vit et décrit son expérience olfactive. La réflexion de ce chapitre s’appuie sur des témoignages recueillis lors de parcours olfactifs commentés et des questionnaires in situ. Enfin, en se basant sur les résultats des études précédentes, le troisième et dernier chapitre s’intéresse à la façon dont l’expérience olfactive de nature peut avoir un rôle transformateur sur l’individu dans le cadre particulier des environnements restaurateurs. En guise de conclusion, ce manuscrit aborde des réflexions, des ouvertures théoriques et pratiques, et des applications que peuvent apporter les résultats du travail de thèse, notamment la place que le sensoriel, l’incarné et l’olfactif pourraient prendre à l’avenir dans la façon de penser et d’enrichir l’expérience de nature.
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Thesis
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Modern humans are currently experiencing a transformation of their environment and of their way of life that are impacting the way they can experience nature in their daily life. These experiences of nature are of great importance for the well-being and health of individuals. They are complex phenomena, anchored in an environmental context, but also socio-cultural, which are based on closely intertwined components that are emotions, memories, knowledge, but also all the sensory stimuli perceived by the human body. Among the senses mobilized, the sense of smell, by its memory and emotional importance, seems to play a singular part in the relationship that weaves the human to nature. The work conducted in this thesis, articulating around three axes of research and reflection, concerns this role of the olfaction in the experience of nature. L’humain moderne vit une transformation de son environnement et de son mode de vie qui impactent la façon dont il peut vivre des expériences de nature au quotidien. Or, ces expériences de nature sont d'une grande importance pour le bien-être et la santé des individus. Ce sont des phénomènes complexes, ancrés dans un contexte environnemental, mais aussi socio-culturel, qui reposent sur des composantes étroitement mêlées que sont les émotions, les souvenirs, les connaissances, mais aussi tous les stimuli sensoriels perçus. Parmi les sens mobilisés, l’odorat, de par son importance mémorielle et émotionnelle, semble jouer un rôle à part dans la relation que tisse l’humain à la nature. C’est à ce rôle de l’olfaction dans l’expérience de nature, à cette part olfactive de l’expérience, que s’intéresse cette thèse s’articulant autour de trois axes de recherches et de réflexion. Dans un premier chapitre, ce manuscrit aborde comment caractériser la part olfactive de l’expérience de nature d’un point de vue individuel. La réflexion de ce chapitre se base sur la mise en œuvre et l’analyse des réponses à un questionnaire articulant entre eux l’olfaction, l’identité et les usages sensoriels d’espaces de nature déclarés par les individus. Dans le deuxième chapitre, c’est la façon dont l’expérience olfactive de nature s’ancre dans un environnement et un contexte qui est abordée, et comment cet ancrage influence la façon dont l’individu vit et décrit son expérience olfactive. La réflexion de ce chapitre s’appuie sur des témoignages recueillis lors de parcours olfactifs commentés et des questionnaires in situ. Enfin, en se basant sur les résultats des études précédentes, le troisième et dernier chapitre s’intéresse à la façon dont l’expérience olfactive de nature peut avoir un rôle transformateur sur l’individu dans le cadre particulier des environnements restaurateurs. En guise de conclusion, ce manuscrit aborde des réflexions, des ouvertures théoriques et pratiques, et des applications que peuvent apporter les résultats du travail de thèse, notamment la place que le sensoriel, l’incarné et l’olfactif pourraient prendre à l’avenir dans la façon de penser et d’enrichir l’expérience de nature.
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The aim of this review is to present direct and indirect lines of converging evidence that highlight the many ways our body odors and sense of smell may influence the three broad stages of romantic relationships; initiation, maintenance and breakdown. This emerging area of study requires a multidisciplinary empirical approach. Here we survey research findings that taken together, suggest that body odor perception moderates mate choice, provides a source of comfort in existing relationships and may signal the breakdown of a relationship through disgust processes. In terms of olfactory ability, having a good sense of smell may facilitate identifying a healthy mate, enhance sexual experiences, relationship security and ensure empathic responsivity, predictors of relationship longevity. We therefore conclude that olfaction plays an important – yet understudied – role in romantic relationships.
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Whereas the sexual lives of college students have been the focus of many research studies, there is very little research on those young adults who have chosen to remain virgins. In this study, 97 virgin men and 192 virgin women from a Midwestern U.S. university were surveyed about the reasons they were virgins, their affective reactions to their virginity status, and other aspects of their virginity (e.g., the social pressure they received to remain a virgin vs. to become sexually active). As hypothesized, women rated more reasons for virginity (particularly interpersonal ones) as important and had more positive reactions (were more proud and happy and less embarrassed and guilty) about being a virgin than did men. Women reported more social pressure than did men to remain a virgin, and men were more likely than women to expect to become a nonvirgin in the near future. Associations among the reasons, affective reactions, and other aspects of virginity were examined for men versus women. Because data were collected from cohorts of virgin students over six years (1990-1995), differences in perceptions of virginity over time were also examined. More recent cohorts of virgins felt more pride about their virginity status and were more likely to report that fear of AIDS and STDs were reasons they remained chaste.
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A survey study examining the relative importance of various social and physical traits in heterosexual attraction was conducted. Data from 198 male and female heterosexual college students revealed that women ranked body odor as more important for attraction than “looks” or any social factor except “pleasantness.” Moreover, in contrast to response to fragrance use, liking someone's natural body odor was the most influential olfactory variable for sexual interest for both men and women. Men rated a woman's good looks as most desirable and as more important than any other factor except pleasantness. Sex differences in the relative ranking of several social factors were consistent with prior research.
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Two studies examined which traits males and females desire in partners at various levels of relationship development in an attempt to integrate evolutionary models (which emphasize sex differences) and social exchange models (which emphasize self-appraisals). In Study 1, male and female students specified their minimum criteria on 24 traits for a date, sexual partner, exclusive dating partner, marriage partner, and 1-night sexual liaison. They also rated themselves on the same dimensions. Sex differences were greatest for casual sexual liaisons, with men's criteria being consistently lower than women's. Men's self-ratings were generally less correlated with their criteria for a 1-night stand, as well. Study 2 replicated the findings of Study 1, adding several modifications, including a measure of Ss' sex typing. Sex typing had few effects. The advantages of combining social psychological and evolutionary perspectives are discussed.
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Body odour may provide significant cues about a potential sexual partner's genetic quality, reproductive status and health. In animals, a key trait in a female's choice of sexual partner is male dominance but, to date, this has not been examined in humans. Here, we show that women in the fertile phase of their cycle prefer body odour of males who score high on a questionnaire-based dominance scale (international personality items pool). In accordance with the theory of mixed mating strategies, this preference varies with relationship status, being much stronger in fertile women in stable relationships than in fertile single women.
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The past decade has witnessed a rapidly growing interest in the biological basis of human mate choice. Here we review recent studies that demonstrate preferences for traits which might reveal genetic quality to prospective mates, with potential but still largely unknown influence on offspring fitness. These include studies assessing visual, olfactory and auditory preferences for potential good-gene indicator traits, such as dominance or bilateral symmetry. Individual differences in these robust preferences mainly arise through within and between individual variation in condition and reproductive status. Another set of studies have revealed preferences for traits indicating complementary genes, focussing on discrimination of dissimilarity at genes in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). As in animal studies, we are only just beginning to understand how preferences for specific traits vary and inter-relate, how consideration of good and compatible genes can lead to substantial variability in individual mate choice decisions and how preferences expressed in one sensory modality may reflect those in another. Humans may be an ideal model species in which to explore these interesting complexities.
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The past decade has witnessed a rapidly growing interest in the biological basis of human mate choice. Here we review recent studies that demonstrate preferences for traits which might reveal genetic quality to prospective mates, with potential but still largely unknown influence on offspring fitness. These include studies assessing visual, olfactory and auditory preferences for potential good-gene indicator traits, such as dominance or bilateral symmetry. Individual differences in these robust preferences mainly arise through within and between individual variation in condition and reproductive status. Another set of studies have revealed preferences for traits indicating complementary genes, focussing on discrimination of dissimilarity at genes in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). As in animal studies, we are only just beginning to understand how preferences for specific traits vary and inter-relate, how consideration of good and compatible genes can lead to substantial variability in individual mate choice decisions and how preferences expressed in one sensory modality may reflect those in another. Humans may be an ideal model species in which to explore these interesting complexities.
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Acknowledgements Introduction: The Meaning and Power of Smell Part I: In Search of Lost Scents 1. The Aromas of Antiquity 2. Following the Scent: From the Middle Ages to Modernity Part II: Explorations in Olfactory Difference 3. Universes of Odour 4. The Rites of Smell Part III: Odour, Power and Society 5. Odour and Power: The Politics of Smell 6. The Aroma of the Commodity: The Commercialization of Smell Bibliography
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Advertisements from 'Lonely Hearts' columns in four US newspapers are used to test hypotheses about mate preferences by male and Female humans. We first confirm conventional findings that, in general, men prefer young women whose reproductive value is high while women prefer men who are slightly older than themselves, that women seek resources while men seek physical attractiveness and that women are more choosy than men. We then go on to test a series of predictions derived from the hypothesis that an individual's preferences in these respects are likely to be contingent on what he/she has to offer. We show that women tend to become less demanding as they age (probably because reproductive value declines with age), whereas males become more demanding (probably because resources increase with age), that women (but not men) offering cues of physical attractiveness make higher demands than those that do not, that men (but not women) offering resources make higher demands than those that do not, that men with few resources to offer attempt to offset this disadvantage by offering cues of family commitment, that men and women with dependent offspring make lower demands than those without and that individuals from higher socio-economic groups (who are likely to have more resources to offer) make more demands than those from lower socio-economic groups.
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A previous study by the authors showed that the body scent of men who have greater body bilateral symmetry is rated as more attractive by normally ovulating (non-pill-using) women during the period of highest fertility based on day within the menstrual cycle. Women in low-fertility phases of the cycle and women using hormone-based con-traceptives do not show this pattern. The current study replicated these findings with a larger sample and statistically controlled for men's hygiene and other factors that were not controlled in the first study. The current study also examined women's scent attrac-tiveness to men and found no evidence that men prefer the scent of symmetric women. We propose that the scent of symmetry is an honest signal of phenotypic and genetic quality in the human male, and chemical candidates are discussed. In both sexes, facial attractiveness (as judged from photos) appears to predict body scent attractiveness to the opposite sex. Women's preference for the scent associated with men's facial attrac-tiveness is greatest when their fertility is highest across the menstrual cycle. The results overall suggest that women have an evolved preference for sires with good genes. © 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.
Article
Extremely high variability in genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in vertebrates is assumed to be a consequence of frequency-dependent parasite-driven selection and mate preferences based on promotion of offspring heterozygosity at MHC, or potentially, genome-wide inbreeding avoidance. Where effects have been found, mate choice studies on rodents and other species usually find preference for MHC-dissimilarity in potential partners. Here we critically review studies on MHC-associated mate choice in humans. These are based on three broadly different aspects: (1) odor preferences, (2) facial preferences and (3) actual mate choice surveys. As in animal studies, most odor-based studies demonstrate disassortative preferences, although there is variation in the strength and nature of the effects. In contrast, facial attractiveness research indicates a preference for MHC-similar individuals. Results concerning MHC in actual couples show a bias towards similarity in one study, dissimilarity in two studies and random distribution in several other studies. These vary greatly in sample size and heterogeneity of the sample population, both of which may significantly bias the results. This pattern of mixed results across studies may reflect context-dependent and/or life history sensitive preference expression, in addition to higher level effects arising out of population differences in genetic heterogeneity or cultural and ethnic restrictions on random mating patterns. Factors of special relevance in terms of individual preferences are reproductive status and long- vs. short-term mating context. We discuss the idea that olfactory and visual channels may work in a complementary way (i.e. odor preference for MHC-dissimilarity and visual preference for MHC-similarity) to achieve an optimal level of genetic variability, methodological issues and interesting avenues for further research.
Article
While it has been reported that most, if not all, very young children are able to detect the odor of 5 alpha-androst-16-en-3-one (androstenone), approximately 40-50% of human adults cannot detect its odor. The present study focused on changes in sensitivity to androstenone during adolescence, which may account for this discrepancy. Sensitivity to androstenone was determined in 247 subjects aged 6 to 50. There was a significant increase in the number of males anosmic to androstenone between 9-14 and 15-20 years of age, and a significant increase in threshold with age among males able to detect the odor. We infer that a smaller percentage of females than males becomes anosmic to the odor of androstenone during development, and those able to detect it apparently show a decrease in threshold with age. No age-related changes were observed in tests of pyridine or d,l-beta-phenylethylmethylethylcarbinol (PEMEC).
Article
We previously found that untrained subjects make nonrandom color matches to odors and that the color matches are stable over time (Gilbert, Martin, & Kemp, 1996). Here we investigate further aspects of the cross-modal associations between vision and olfaction: whether perceptual dimensions of odor vary systemically with those of vision. Subjects matched Munsell color chips to five odors presented at three concentrations; they also rated odor intensity. Significant negative correlations between Munsell value and perceived odor intensity were found for three odors. The results suggest that stronger odors were associated with darker colors. The cross-modal relationship between vision and olfaction appears to be dimensional: Color lightness varies inversely with perceived odor intensity. This finding parallels the dimensional relations found between other modalities (e.g., lightness varies with loudness).
Article
Humans, like other mammals, are capable of discriminating between kin and non-kin by olfactory cues alone. Shortly after birth, breastfed infants become familiar with, and respond preferentially to, their mother's unique odor signature. Mothers likewise recognize the characteristic scent of their newborn infant. Close biological relatives share somewhat similar odor signatures (presumably resulting from genetically mediated similarities in bodily biochemistry and metabolism) that could facilitate kin recognition.
Article
The sex of individuals plays an important part in determining their olfactory abilities, with females generally being superior to males. The present review examines the way in which sex differences influence sensitivity, identification, familiarity, and recognition of odours. It also examines whether sex differences are more pronounced with some odours than others, and how sex differences are affected by the manner of testing. Two different explanations for the superiority of females over males in olfaction are evaluated.
Article
Previous findings indicating that pregnant women experience a shift in odor sensitivity and hedonics raise the question of whether these changes evoke adverse reactions to odorous and pungent environmental substances in daily activities, to a larger extent in pregnant than in nonpregnant women. Forty-four women in pregnancy weeks 21-23 and 44 nonpregnant women were therefore compared with respect to affective reactions to and behavioral disruptions by odorous/pungent daily environments by means of the questionnaire-based, 21-item Chemical Sensitivity Scale (CSS). This scale refers to neurasthenic and sensory/somatic symptoms and includes the 11 items of the Chemical Sensitivity Scale for Sensory Hyperreactivity (CSS-SHR). This latter scale refers predominantly to sensory/somatic symptoms. To investigate whether there is a general environmental hypersensitivity during pregnancy, the Noise Sensitivity Scale (NSS) was used that is analogous to the CSS (including 11 NSS items corresponding to those of the CSS-SHR; "NSS-SHR"). Results show that the two groups were similar with respect to scores on both the CSS and NSS, whereas the pregnant women had higher scores than the nonpregnant women on the CSS-SHR, but not on the "NSS-SHR". These results suggest that pregnant women to a larger extent than nonpregnant women manifest an odor intolerance that affects their daily activities, with predominantly sensory/somatic symptoms, which appears not to be due to a general environmental hypersensitivity. This behavior may have embryo- and maternal-protective functions.
Article
Distinct differences in the behaviour and preferences of men and women have conventionally been attributed to Trivers' powerful insights regarding the impact of parental investment on sexual selection and mating systems. This has spawned a huge literature about the evolutionary significance of human sex differences. But are men and women really so different? An elegant new study shows that men and women are strikingly similar in their mate preferences. Have conventional models blinded us to the obvious, and precluded the posing of far more interesting questions?
Are men and women really so different? Trends in Ecology and Evolution
  • M B Mulder
Mulder, M. B. (2004). Are men and women really so different? Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 19, 3–6.
Sexualni chovani v CR – Situace a trendy (Sexual behavior in Czech Republic – Situation and trends) Portal
  • P Weiss
  • J Zverina
Weiss, P., & Zverina, J. (2001). Sexualni chovani v CR – Situace a trendy (Sexual behavior in Czech Republic – Situation and trends). Portal: Prague.
Integrating evolutionary and social-exchange perspectives on relationships – Effects of gender, self-appraisal, and involvement level on mate selection criteria
  • Kenrick