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Human pheromones and the smell of personality

Posted on April 3, 2013 by James Kohl.

Can You Smell Personality?

By Scott Barry Kaufman | April 3, 2013 |

Excerpt 1: Research suggests that human body odor [human pheromones] signals quite a bit of information, including sex, age, genetic compatibility, and female fertility status.”

Excerpt 2: According to the researchers, this suggests that “judgements of dominance based on body odour [human pheromones] might be especially important in a mating context.”

My comment: If judgements of dominance based on body odor were only important in the context of mating, we would not see findings that link body odor (e.g., human pheromones to sexual orientation. See, for example: Le Vay (2011) Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation p. 210 “This model is attractive in that it solves the “binding problem” of sexual attraction. By that I mean the problem of why all the different features of men or women (visual appearance and feel of face, body, and genitals; voice quality, smell; personality and behavior, etc.) attract people as a more or less coherent package representing one sex, rather than as an arbitrary collage of male and female characteristics. If all these characteristics come to be attractive because they were experienced in association with a male- or female-specific pheromone, then they will naturally go together even in the absence of complex genetically coded instructions.”

Kohl (2012) “The concept that is extended is the epigenetic tweaking of immense gene networks in ‘superorganisms’ (Lockett, Kucharski, & Maleszka, 2012) that ‘solve problems through the exchange and the selective cancellation and modification of signals (Bear, 2004, p. 330)’. It is now clearer how an environmental drive probably evolved from that of food ingestion in unicellular organisms to that of socialization in insects. It is also clear that, in mammals, food odors and pheromones cause changes in hormones such as LH, which has developmental affects on sexual behavior in nutrient-dependent, reproductively fit individuals across species of vertebrates.”

The model LeVay refers to is detailed in an award-winning journal article: The Mind’s Eyes: Human pheromones, neuroscience, and male sexual preferences, which was concurrently published as a book chapter in the Handbook of the Evolution of Human Sexuality. The links to sex, age, genetic compatibility, and female fertility status were detailed in the award-winning journal article: Human pheromones: integrating neuroendocrinology and ethology.

 

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James Kohl
Retired medical laboratory scientist

James Kohl




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What is the vomeronasal organ (VNO)?

The vomeronasal organ (VNO) is a cone-shaped organ in the nasal cavity, which is believed to be one of the body's receptors of pheromones. More, specifically, the VNO, which is part of the accessory olfactory system in the nose, does not respond to normal scents, but may detect odorless, barely perceptible pheromones.

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Learn more about the science behind pheromones here.

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