However, it's always been kind of a question mark as to how much of a difference they really make. Humans, in particular, have more secretion and sweat glands than any other primate and the organ we use to detect pheromones is called the vomeronasal organ, or VNO.
It's a tiny crescent-shaped bundle of neurons right at the base of each nostril. And almost all animals have them from reptiles to elephants to house cats. What's surprising, however, is that only 30 percent of humans were actually born with this organ.
How We Detect Pheromones
We're all affected by pheromones, right? So, there's gotta be something else that allows us to detect them. Well, there is. Men secrete something called androstadienone which is a metabolite of testosterone in their sweat and semen.
And women secrete estratetraenol in their urine, which is a derivative of estrogen. Both chemicals are known to trigger arousal and the opposite sex. But in order to be considered a true pheromone, they have to shape how people view different genders.
New Research from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing confirms that that's exactly what happens. For the study, researchers split men and women up into groups of 24 and then had them watch a video. The figure on the left has a decidedly female stretch with a lot more hip movement.
While the figure on the right has a flatter gate, typically seen in males and one in the middle is considered neutral, meaning it could go either way. They then ask subjects to inhale either androstadienone or estratetraenol and judge whether they thought the neutral walk was more masculine or more feminine. Learn more at http://anatomist.info
Pheromone Experiment Results
It turns out their judgments dependent entirely on their own sexual preferences. After smelling androstadienone, the male hormone, straight, women perceived the walk as being more masculine.
But the pheromone had no effect on straight men. In contrast, smelling estratetraenol, the female hormone made straight men perceive the walk is more feminine, while straight women weren't affected. Learn about the growing interest in pheromones and do they work.
Even more interesting is the fact that gay men follow the exact same response pattern as straight women. So homosexual men are more likely to respond to male pheromones and then they are to female ones. Oddly enough, homosexual women fell somewhere in between, so neither pheromone really made much of a difference.
Now, this supports the classification of androstadienone and estratetraenol sex pheromones, but it also shows that they can influence our perception of gender but only in the genders were attracted to.
Like most pheromones, the smell is pretty much imperceptible, so all of these decisions that happen, are subconscious. But there still an important part of how we interact and perceive each other. Learn more at http://astrobiosociety.org
What Pheromone Study Shows
More importantly, the study also shows that pheromones aren't gender specific. They are sexuality specific, which gives even less ammo to the argument that sexuality is a choice.
Personally, I think everyone smells gross, but I also live in a city with almost no air conditioning and I attend a lot of gaming conventions, so my experience is probably skewed.