Women's body odor during ovulation improves social perception in single men

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous research has shown that men's mating motivation may increase following exposure to women's body odor during ovulation. In the current study, we examined whether exposure to women's fertility odor cues influences social perception among men, while focusing on the role of men's relationship status in moderating this reaction. We collected body odor samples from 43 women during ovulation and during the luteal phase and exposed 85 men to these odor samples while they performed an emotion recognition task and an interpersonal perception task. Single men were better at recognizing emotional facial expressions following exposure to odor cues of high fertility as compared with odor cues of low fertility. No such effect was identified in pair-bonded men. In support of this finding, single men became more accurate on the interpersonal perception task following exposure to odor cues of high fertility, while pair-bonded men became less accurate after such exposure. Collectively, the results suggest that exposure to women's fertility odor cues improves social perception among single men, while it impairs such perception among pair-bonded men. We suggest that these effects may result from increased mating motivation following exposure to odor cues of fertility, which in turn encourages accurate social perception among single men while promoting an avoidant attitude toward social stimuli among pair-bonded men.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-662
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Senses
Volume44
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 26 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • chemosignaling
  • mating behavior
  • menstrual cycle
  • relationship status
  • social perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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