Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Love Scent: How Pheromones Affect Attraction

    I recently viewed a TedTalk on the sense of smell from Vedat Ozan (will be linked below) I decided to dive deeper into how our sense of smell might affect an emotional attachment or attraction to others. The olfactory system or put more simply our sense of smell is an extraordinary thing. Vedat open discusses briefly how many years ago the only way people were attracted to mates was based on the body odor of their partners. He goes on to explain that this starts usually at puberty, stating, "Puberty when the body starts to produce specific odors, which are simply biological mating signals" . He also discusses how newborns and infants are comforted by the scent of their mothers or their caregivers. So how and why do our body odors determine our attraction? 

    Let's start with Pheromones, pheromones to put simply are chemicals that organisms produce unconsciously to cue and transmit information within their species. These pheromones are picked up by the nose and can illicit behavioral or physiological responses from the individual smelling the scent. Pheromones are released for a variety of reasons, including: territorial, aggression, alarm/fear, Primal, and sex/mating.

 The term love at first sight doesn't necessarily have to do with the attractiveness of the person, but definitely aids in it, its more so the scent of the person that attracts you to them, invoking that love at first sight feeling. The most common pheromone that aids in attraction is called Androsterone. both men and women produce Androsterone, however this pheromone makes men more attractive to women. Women have an additional sex pheromone called Copulin that correlates to her menstrual cycle. 

    The attractiveness of pheromones varies from person to person, meaning not all people are attracted to the same scent or pheromone. While there is no real definitive reason as to why some scents/pheromones are more attractive than others, scientists have studied insects, mostly moths, as well as rats to try and determine why exactly one scent is favored over another. When studying animals and insects it was found that pheromones directly correspond to reproductive behaviors. In Stockholm two neuroscientists investigated the brains activity when presented with two pheromones, comparing how the brain reacted when males and females scented the two pheromones. The findings showed that males and females hypothalamus' both lighted when in the scenting the opposite sexes pheromones. While this data does not definitively prove that pheromones aid in reproduction in humans, it does highlight that pheromones do have a sway in how attractive we find a partner. 


  1. Very interesting post, I did not really know about this topic. Its almost like its subconcious that we smell and get these feelings from certain smells.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post and how you related it to the Ted talk. It lead me to go and watch it myself. I think it is really cool that there is science that somewhat supports the concept of "Love at first sight" and that we are trained to subconsciously react to a smell we are not even aware of. Its cool to think that this is something I knew animals did in the wild but never considered we would do as humans.