Reconsidering human pheromones: can the effects of men's axillary secretions on women predict degrees of visual attractiveness?

Michael C. Karoglan, The College of Wooster


In the past several decades, studies have found that components of men's sweat can induce physiological responses in women, and that such responses may indicate a perceived degree of genetic fitness that can be inherited by offspring. The present research aimed to determine if the effects of men's perspiratory secretions alone could predict their visual attractiveness. Ninetyeight women were exposed to either photos of men's faces (as a preliminary measure of visual attractiveness), a t-shirt worn by either a male confederate who was rated as the most attractive or the least attractive in the preliminary phase, or an unworn t-shirt. Data on mood and saliva samples were collected and analyzed. Women exposed to a t-shirt worn by the "less attractive" confederate reported feeling less irritated, annoyed, and sensual. Additionally, the t-shirt worn by the "more attractive" confederate received higher ratings on pleasantness and intensity of scent. While unique in its specific findings, the present study corroborates theories that humans utilize signals from multiple sensory modalities in mate selection.