Effects of androstadienone on dominance perception in males with low and high social anxiety

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing evidence suggests that humans can communicate both trait-dominance and state-dominance via body odor. Androstadienone (androsta-4,16,-dien-3-one), a chemosignal found in human sweat, seems to be a likely candidate for signaling dominance in humans. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of androstadienone on the perception of social dominance. Moreover, we examined whether high levels of social anxiety, a psychopathology involving concerns that specifically pertain to social dominance, are associated with increased sensitivity to androstadienone as a chemical cue of dominance. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subject design, 64 heterosexual male participants (32 with high social anxiety and 32 withconfliow social anxiety) viewed facial images of males depicting dominant, neutral and submissive postures, and were asked to recognize and rate the dominance expressed in those images. Participants completed the task twice, once under exposure to androstadienone and once under exposure to a control solution. The results indicate that androstadienone increased the perceived dominance of men's faces, specifically among participants with high social anxiety. These findings suggest a direct influence of androstadienone on dominance perception and further highlight the preferential processing of dominance and social threat signals evident in social anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-144
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Androstadienone
  • Dominance
  • Social anxiety
  • Social chemosignaling
  • Submissiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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