Trust the science. Don’t trust the hype

August 20, 2011 | James Kohl

The Scent of a Woman: Don’t trust the hype about pheromones and sexual attraction.

“Doty refers to a 2004 study on sheep that interrogated the long-held assumption that females ovulate in the presence of males, most likely due to pheromones. The researchers put lavender on the males and after a few mating sessions, the females began ovulating from the scent of lavender alone. The findings suggest that the females’ hormonal response was an acquired behavior, rather than an innate one.”

In the excerpt quoted above, Doty or an ignorant article author turned the effect of pheromones on luteinizing hormone (LH) into an acquired behavior due to lavender. Trust me, or read it yourself: The 2004 study on sheep demonstrates that ewes learn to associate lavender odor with their sexual partner. A 2010 study shows this association is made via an effect on LH. A 2011 study reports that the effect on LH is linked to testosterone levels of the male, and results soon to be published show the effect of the testosterone-associated pheromones on female behavior is not due to the visual appeal of the male, and that sexual experience is not required (in goats).

Where’s the hype about pheromones that you can’t trust? Four additional studies show exactly the opposite of what we’re told in the article. It’s the pheromones that alter LH and behavior in the sheep (and all other mammals). The effect of food odor on LH is not due to the visual appeal of the food, either.

Trust the science!

Androstenol effects LH in women. It is found in male axillary secretions, which influence LH and mood in women.

We used a mixture of androstenol (which effects LH), and androsterone, (which is an indicator of testosterone levels), to make a man more visually appealing. Earlier this year, our results were presented to other scientists at the Association for Chemoreception Sciences conference. We showed that a mixture of androstenol and androsterone increased women’s observed flirtatious behavior and their self-reported level of attraction. Our results indicate androsterone, which is associated with testosterone levels in human males, affects behavior during 15-minutes of exposure in a typical social circumstance.

Those who understand anything about the biology of behavior will recognize the suspected effect on LH and the demonstrable behavioral affect are expected when testing either food odors or social odors. The social odors are pheromones. Adding human pheromones (specifically, our mixture of androstenol and androsterone) increases sex appeal the same way adding spice increases the appeal of food. Not everyone will respond favorably to all pheromones or all spices, but the effect on hormones and affects on behavior are very predictable. Only a fool would argue against cause and effect with regard to pheromones in any species.

Who’s fooling who about human pheromones, sexual attraction, and who you can trust?

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James Vaughn Kohl

James Vaughn Kohl

James Vaughn Kohl was the first to accurately conceptualize human pheromones, and began presenting his findings to the scientific community in 1992. He continues to present to, and publish for, diverse scientific and lay audiences, while constantly monitoring the scientific presses for new information that is relevant to the development of his initial and ongoing conceptualization of human pheromones.