Entries in pheromones (5)


Your First Date: Make Sure Your Genes Fit

Getting ready for a first date involves preparations to look and feel good. It might involve a new ‘do,’ a clean shave, or fresh new outfit with a great pair of jeans that fit perfectly. But great-fitting jeans are not the only thing that people are making sure fit before their first date. People can now check that their genes fit. Yep, genes -- as in our DNA -- before going on a first date. 

Love Is In the Air

Our body smell is an important determining factor of whether someone else finds us attractive or not. In fact, I can’t think of a single person I know who is really attracted to someone they think smells bad. If anything, people remark at how good the person smells. In fact, smell is so important that a huge industry making perfumes and colognes thrives off our desire to smell good to one another. Smell is so important that women rank it higher than appearance when asked what they consider to be the single most important variable in mate choice!

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The Nose Knows: Detecting Sickness by Scent

image source: myteespot.com/images/Images_d/DSCF8661.jpgResearchers injected 8 volunteers with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a molecule found on bacteria that induces a strong “internal” immune response similar to the one that occurs when people are sick (e.g., increases in body temperature and immune cells). The volunteers wore t-shirts to collect their body odor (and also provided t-shirts worn after saline administration, which served as a control condition). A separate group of participants later rated the t-shirts for pleasantness and healthiness. The participants rated the LPS condition t-shirts as more unpleasant and less healthy relative to the ‘normal’ t-shirts. In other words, when we’re sick, we release a funk that tells others to stay away. Follow your nose—it always knows.

Olsson, M. J., Lundström, J. N., Kimball, B. A., Gordon, A. R., et al. (in press). The scent of disease: Human body odor contains an early chemosensory cue of sickness. Psychological Science.


Judging a Book by its Smell

After having three dates with a gentleman recently, I decided to stop seeing him. At the risk of sounding shallow, I just didn’t like the way he tasted or smelled. Let me explain. Our first date was a quick cup of coffee one Saturday afternoon. The conversation was interesting. We had a number of things in common, he was attractive and funny, and there was enough of a spark to make me want to kiss him after the date. Sadly, the kiss left something to be desired. His mouth had a metallic taste to it, which I thought might have been due to the bitter coffee he had been nursing during our conversation. He wasn’t wearing braces or anything, so rather than assume that it was something about him (something us psychologists call an internal attribution), I agreed to another date when he asked me out again.

Our second date entailed dinner and a few glasses of wine. He walked me to my car afterwards and kissed me. Same metallic flavor. Yuck. I moved in to give him a hug and smelled his neck.

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Pheromone Parties: The Sweet Smell of a Future Partner

Single people use a number of methods to find potential dates, such as going to bars, being fixed up by friends, online dating, or attending speed-dating events. How about choosing your next date based only on the smell of their stinky t-shirt? Sounds crazy, but an artist in Georgia has been throwing parties for singles where they do just that. Attendees bring a t-shirt they have worn to bed for the past three nights (without wearing any deodorant or perfume) to the party in a plastic bag. They then smell each other’s t-shirts and can introduce themselves to the people whose t-shirts they found most appealing. At one party, out of 40 attendees, a dozen people reportedly “hooked up”, and about half of them started relationships, which means roughly a third of the attendees found a match based on the smell of a t-shirt. Could smelling t-shirts be the best way to find that special someone? If so, what are people finding attractive about each other’s scents, and what does this mean for their later relationship success?

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Dude, You Stink So Good

Please note that the t-shirts purchasable in our Swag Shop do not come with pheromones. You must supply your own (or ask your partner to loan you some).

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“Do you wanna smell my sweaty t-shirt?” That doesn’t sound like a very good pickup line for a guy to use, does it? Well, turns out it might be, depending on how attractive he is.

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