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Putative sex-specific human pheromones do not affect gender perception, attractiveness ratings or unfaithfulness judgements of opposite sex faces

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Debate continues over the existence of human sex pheromones. Two substances, androstadienone (AND) and estratetraenol (EST), were recently reported to signal male and female gender, respectively, potentially qualifying them as human sex pheromones. If AND and EST truly signal gender, then they should affect reproductively relevant behaviours such as mate perception. To test this hypothesis, heterosexual, Caucasian human participants completed two computer-based tasks twice, on two consecutive days, exposed to a control scent on one day and a putative pheromone (AND or EST) on the other. In the first task, 46 participants (24 male, 22 female) indicated the gender (male or female) of five gender-neutral facial morphs. Exposure to AND or EST had no effect on gender perception. In the second task, 94 participants (43 male, 51 female) rated photographs of opposite-sex faces for attractiveness and probable sexual unfaithfulness. Exposure to the putative pheromones had no effect on either attractiveness or unfaithfulness ratings. These results are consistent with those of other experimental studies and reviews that suggest AND and EST are unlikely to be human pheromones. The double-blind nature of the current study lends increased support to this conclusion. If human sex pheromones affect our judgements of gender, attractiveness or unfaithfulness from faces, they are unlikely to be AND or EST.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Mean difference scores generated in the gender classification task from 46 participants exposed to one of two putative human pheromones, AND and EST. Differences calculated for each participant by subtracting control from treatment proportions (proportion of five gender-neutral faces perceived as female on separate days). Thick lines indicate medians, boxes indicate interquartile ranges, whiskers indicate minima and maxima, and points indicate means. A positive difference score would indicate that participants were more likely to attribute femaleness in the treatment setting than in the control setting.
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RSOS160831F2: Mean difference scores generated in the gender classification task from 46 participants exposed to one of two putative human pheromones, AND and EST. Differences calculated for each participant by subtracting control from treatment proportions (proportion of five gender-neutral faces perceived as female on separate days). Thick lines indicate medians, boxes indicate interquartile ranges, whiskers indicate minima and maxima, and points indicate means. A positive difference score would indicate that participants were more likely to attribute femaleness in the treatment setting than in the control setting.

Mentions: The proportion of faces perceived as female in control and treatment sessions was calculated for each participant. A difference score was calculated for each participant by subtracting the control from the treatment proportion. Thus a difference score other than zero would indicate an effect of the putative pheromones on gender perception. A positive difference score would indicate the participant was more likely to attribute femaleness when exposed to the pheromone treatment, and a negative difference score would indicate the participant was more likely to attribute maleness when exposed to the pheromone treatment. A consistent positive difference score among participants exposed to EST would thus support our prediction that the substance signals femaleness. A consistent negative difference score among participants exposed to AND would support our prediction that AND signals maleness. Difference scores from all participants were pooled and analysed with three factors: pheromone (AND or EST), participant sex (FEMALE or MALE) and stimulus order (treatment FIRST or SECOND), including an interaction between pheromone and sex. Order was not a factor of interest but was included in the model to counterbalance any potential effects of learning in the experimental protocol or acquired familiarity with the stimulus set. ANOVA indicated no significant effects of any factor on difference scores (figure 2 and table 1).Figure 2.


Putative sex-specific human pheromones do not affect gender perception, attractiveness ratings or unfaithfulness judgements of opposite sex faces
Mean difference scores generated in the gender classification task from 46 participants exposed to one of two putative human pheromones, AND and EST. Differences calculated for each participant by subtracting control from treatment proportions (proportion of five gender-neutral faces perceived as female on separate days). Thick lines indicate medians, boxes indicate interquartile ranges, whiskers indicate minima and maxima, and points indicate means. A positive difference score would indicate that participants were more likely to attribute femaleness in the treatment setting than in the control setting.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5383829&req=5

RSOS160831F2: Mean difference scores generated in the gender classification task from 46 participants exposed to one of two putative human pheromones, AND and EST. Differences calculated for each participant by subtracting control from treatment proportions (proportion of five gender-neutral faces perceived as female on separate days). Thick lines indicate medians, boxes indicate interquartile ranges, whiskers indicate minima and maxima, and points indicate means. A positive difference score would indicate that participants were more likely to attribute femaleness in the treatment setting than in the control setting.
Mentions: The proportion of faces perceived as female in control and treatment sessions was calculated for each participant. A difference score was calculated for each participant by subtracting the control from the treatment proportion. Thus a difference score other than zero would indicate an effect of the putative pheromones on gender perception. A positive difference score would indicate the participant was more likely to attribute femaleness when exposed to the pheromone treatment, and a negative difference score would indicate the participant was more likely to attribute maleness when exposed to the pheromone treatment. A consistent positive difference score among participants exposed to EST would thus support our prediction that the substance signals femaleness. A consistent negative difference score among participants exposed to AND would support our prediction that AND signals maleness. Difference scores from all participants were pooled and analysed with three factors: pheromone (AND or EST), participant sex (FEMALE or MALE) and stimulus order (treatment FIRST or SECOND), including an interaction between pheromone and sex. Order was not a factor of interest but was included in the model to counterbalance any potential effects of learning in the experimental protocol or acquired familiarity with the stimulus set. ANOVA indicated no significant effects of any factor on difference scores (figure 2 and table 1).Figure 2.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Debate continues over the existence of human sex pheromones. Two substances, androstadienone (AND) and estratetraenol (EST), were recently reported to signal male and female gender, respectively, potentially qualifying them as human sex pheromones. If AND and EST truly signal gender, then they should affect reproductively relevant behaviours such as mate perception. To test this hypothesis, heterosexual, Caucasian human participants completed two computer-based tasks twice, on two consecutive days, exposed to a control scent on one day and a putative pheromone (AND or EST) on the other. In the first task, 46 participants (24 male, 22 female) indicated the gender (male or female) of five gender-neutral facial morphs. Exposure to AND or EST had no effect on gender perception. In the second task, 94 participants (43 male, 51 female) rated photographs of opposite-sex faces for attractiveness and probable sexual unfaithfulness. Exposure to the putative pheromones had no effect on either attractiveness or unfaithfulness ratings. These results are consistent with those of other experimental studies and reviews that suggest AND and EST are unlikely to be human pheromones. The double-blind nature of the current study lends increased support to this conclusion. If human sex pheromones affect our judgements of gender, attractiveness or unfaithfulness from faces, they are unlikely to be AND or EST.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus