The sight of someone in tears might make you feel concerned. But the smell of tears, researchers say, has a different effect. Apparently the tears sent a message that romance was off the table. This study offers some of the most recent evidence that people perceive all sorts of interesting things about one another through olfaction. Airborne molecules that elicit a reaction in a member of the same species are called pheromones, and the most famous ones are potent aphrodisiacs, like androstenone and androstenol in the saliva of male boars. Researchers as well as fragrance companies have been hoping to find a human sex pheromone for decades, but so far the search has failed, says George Preti of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.
The Truth About Pheromones | Science | Smithsonian
Chinese researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently conducted a study that showed that the brains of gay and bisexual men respond positively to androstadienone, the male pheromone found in male semen and sweat. It also showed that lesbian and bi women respond somewhat similarly to the female pheromone estratetraenol. They watched these videos while concurrently being exposed to androstadienone or estratetraenol masked with the scent of cloves. When exposed to androstadienone, heterosexual women were more likely to suggest that the wire figure was a man—but the pheromone had no effect on heterosexual men that is, hetero men largely could not detect a male or female presence when presented with the pheromone Perhaps most importantly, homosexual men also responded to that pheromone, suggesting that gay men innately perceive and are perhaps affected by male pheromones. Straight men, meanwhile, were more likely to perceive the figure as feminine when exposed to estratetraenol. Straight women showed no effect, while lesbian and bisexual women showed a response somewhere in between…. The results provide the first direct evidence that the two human steroids communicate opposite gender information that is differentially effective to the two sex groups based on their sexual orientation.