Scent of a man

Another smell study, this time examining hormone and mood responses among straight women to male sweat.

This passage from an article in the London Daily Mail is provocative:

Dr Claire Wyart, of the University of California, said: “This is the first time anyone has demonstrated that a change in women’s hormonal levels is induced by sniffing an identified compound of male sweat.

“This male chemical signal, androstadienone, does cause hormonal as well as physiological and psychological changes in women.”

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience is, however, not the first to show that male sweat holds a certain appeal for the opposite sex.

A study carried out at the University of Northumbria showed that a whiff of sweat has the ability to turn a frog into a prince.

Researchers asked a group of female students to judge the attractiveness of men shown in photos. A second group of women were set the same task, but this time, unknown to them, a cloth soaked in male sweat was hidden nearby.

The women under the influence of the pheromones – released by glands including those under our arms – rated all the men as being more attractive.

Those judged as being the least attractive by the first group of women showed the biggest jump in sex appeal, with the women rating them as being almost as appealing as the best-looking men.

The only women to resist the effect of sweat were those taking the contraceptive pill.

It is thought the hormones in the Pill stop women from responding as strongly to natural signals of attraction.

Sweat also plays another important role in the mating game, with scientists believing we seek out partners whose body odour is different to our own.

6 thoughts on “Scent of a man”

  1. This study reminded me of something shameful. Something that I would seldom admit to in public. But here it is…. I saw Porky’s. In the theater. And paid money to do so. (blush).

    If I recall correctly, one of the girls got turned on by the smell in the men’s locker room. I guess that movie was ahead of its time.

  2. Michael,

    That’s an interesting notion.

    And it does consider one something that seems seldom mentioned in the discussion about reorientation therapy – that just as there is an attraction to the same sex, there is also a repulsion (for lack of a better word) from the opposite sex.

  3. Here’s my theory on homosexuality. I am stating it as a hyposthesis, not a fact. As we have said, no one KNOWS what “causes” sexuality orientation, gay or straight. I personally believe it is inate, instinictual, intrinsic– part of a person’s soul and being — though not necessarily “fixed” or inflexible over one’s lifetime. Yes, I believe it is inborn — just as hetersexual orienation is.

    I know people get upset at the suggestion that it might be inborn and, no, I cannot PROVE it, but I think that for the vast majority of people with “SSA”, this is the case. I believe that environment can and does influence how the underlying orientation is expressed, but I think that the orientation itself is “hard-wired” — just as it is for straights.

    Here’s how I think it works: In many species, males and females display differing physical traits that signal to a potential mate “I am the one you want”. Tail feathers, mating calls, the shape of a head of body, an enlarged rump, swollen genitals, a particular scent, the curves and breasts of a human female, the angularity, body hair, beard and gentalia of a human male, etc.

    In heterosexuals, the male automatically “hones in on” those sexondaqry sex characteristcs of the female that signal that she is a potential mate. The secondary sexual characteristcs of a male have the opposite effect — “”I am like you. I am NOT a potential mate”. This is all unconscious and automatic for the most part. Like a compass needle, the straight person automatically points NORTH. That’s all “orientation” is — the prevailing DIRECTION of the attraction. It’s primitive, built it. “Identity” and “lifestyle” are not.

    In homosexual men, the internal, automatic “compass needle” points SOUTH. When I see the secondary sexual characteristics of a female, my brain gets the message: “very nice lookng but definitely NOT a potential mate”. I can appreciate the beauty, but I have NO attraction to female scent or shape. On the other hand, when I pick up on a man’s scent and shape, my brain pays attention instantaneously. It says, “now HERE is a potential mate for you!” It’s an unmistiakeable magnetism — the same feeling straights get when they “fall in love across a crowded room.”

    I strongly believe that someday we WILL understand this built in attraction to one gender or the other — and that we will be able to demonstrate scientifically that it is an unlearned instinct — part of the basic drive for human attachment. Of course, even then, we will still be responsible for how we behave now matter how we feel.

  4. JAG

    Actually this study has already been done. And, perhaps not surprisingly, lesbians were attracted to pheromones differently than were heterosexual women. As Dr. Throckmorton discussed at that time, there does seem to be a brain response associated with orientation.

    Where Warren and I might differ is as to whether the response is conditioned or instinctual.

  5. This is really interesting…but I don’t understand

    “The researchers used only heterosexual women in the study out of concern that homosexual women may respond differently to this male chemical.”

    That would be an equally interesting finding, would it not? Regardless of outcome, it would contribute to the discussion of same-sex attraction.

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