We all rely heavily on our senses to interpret the world around us. But when we consider which sense influences what we’re attracted to, most would probably say our sense of sight. Sight may be one of the most important, but you might be surprised to hear just how influential smell is!
Check out how your subconscious processes smells of those you encounter.
1. Men’s natural body odor is attractive to women while they’re menstruating… but repulsive when they’re not
That’s right women, that stinky man may not be so stinky when your body is telling you its baby-making time. Men naturally produce a hormone called androstenone wherever they have clumps of body hair (armpits, groin, face) that smells like musk. Most of the time, that scent is unpleasant to women. But when a woman is menstruating, that repulsive smell shifts and instead acts as an attractant.
2. Men “look” more attractive to women when they smell better
A study conducted by Oxford University showed that men actually look more attractive to women when they smell better. A pool of women were handed photos of men and were asked to rate each on how attractive each was. The test subjects were exposed to different scents with each different photograph they saw.
Researchers found that if a woman was exposed to an unpleasant scent, the likelihood that she would find the man unattractive increased dramatically. Similarly, pleasant smells resulted in higher attraction scores.
3. Women can subconsciously detect DNA incompatibilities through smell
In the make-up of our DNA, there lives a mechanism referred to as the Major Histocompatibility Complex (or MHC for short). Our MHC determines what diseases and bacterias our bodies are resistant to. Each individual’s MHC is unique, and natural selection encourages us to seek out individuals with a different MHC makeup from our own.
So can females smell a male’s MHC? Not quite, but they can smell an indirect product from one’s MHC composition: a person’s sweat.
The smell of a man’s sweat is directly related to the bacteria found underneath his skin. The bacteria that survives in a man’s body is only that which his MHC does not have an immunity built against. So when a woman’s olfactory sense picks up a man’s scent, if that scent is subconsciously reminiscent of a close relative’s scent, her natural instincts will say, “Find somebody else, because you already have an MHC similar to this one.”
4. Female pheromones make them more attractive to men… regardless of appearance
When women have sex, they release a unique pheromone that directly influences a man’s testosterone levels.
One study took a sampling of men and asked to look over pictures of women and rate them in terms of attractiveness. Researchers then exposed the men to an EXTREMELY small sample of this female pheromone (so small, in fact, that the subjects reportedly said they couldn’t smell anything). Immediately, their testosterone levels spiked.
When testosterone levels increase in men, their ability to think clearly fades. Upon being asked to review and rate the photographs once more, the men’s ratings showed that their distinction between attractive and less attractive females diminished. Ergo, when a man picks up a woman’s scent (regardless of what that woman looks like), his desire for her will become stronger.
5. The best smelling men are… symmetrical ones
Ok, this is a weird one, but studies show that symmetrical men tend to naturally smell better than asymmetrical men.
One researcher took sweat shirts from a group of men and gave them to a sampling of women to smell. In the blind scent test, the women overwhelmingly said that shirts from men with symmetrical features smelled better than those that came from asymmetrical men.