Advertisers aiming to market pheromone-based perfumes and sprays that claim to make men desirable to women have often inflated the seductive powers of pheromones (scented sex hormones).
Some guys believe that the odour of their natural sweat is particularly attractive to women, based on well publicised scientific findings on female sensitivity to male pheromones.
Although women are highly sensitive to male pheromones, especially around ovulation, many widespread beliefs regarding their effects are the consequence of misinterpretation and oversimplification of research findings.
The existence of olfactory impacts that transcend beyond pheromonal level has been discovered through research into the concept of attraction. Synthetic perfumes have been shown to influence not only attraction perception, but also the attribution of beauty-related intrinsic qualities. The goal of this study was to see how perfume-gender congruency affected attractiveness evaluations and any perfume-generated halo effect.
36 heterosexual female students rated male faces from low to high attractiveness across six domains: attractive, dependable, outgoing, clever, rich, and socially competent. Ratings were taken in the presence of a female scent (incongruent condition), a male perfume (congruent condition), or a no perfume control condition, with participants being randomly assigned to three equal-sized groups.
The findings revealed that: 1) attractiveness caused a strong halo effect; 2) male perfume did not significantly increase perception of attractiveness when compared to female perfume; and 3) gender-congruent smell increased attribution of "halo" attributes. These findings suggest that gender-congruent perfume can have a favourable impact on initial impressions beyond appearance, and the mechanisms and ramifications are examined.
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