Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chemical Communication by Humans: Beyond Pheromones

The concept of being able to communicate emotions & conditions through body smell signals (i.e. signals of a chemical nature, same as other animals), has been at the bottom of lots of research into how humans interact. Pheromones haven't been proven to be a conclusive given yet (though theories abound), but other signals seem to have been at the focus of new research.

"To find out, researchers had male subjects watch two movies. One was scary, and the other made viewers feel disgusted. The researchers then collected the participants’ sweat. Female subjects then smelled the sweat, while the scientists recorded their facial expressions. And the women who smelled “fear sweat” actually produced fearful facial expressions. While those who smelled the “disgust sweat” made disgusted faces. The inference is that the chemical compounds impelled the female subjects to remotely experience the same emotions felt by the sweaty males. The study is in the journal Psychological Science." [Jasper H. B. de Groot et al, Chemosignals Communicate Human Emotions]

snippet via Chris Bartelett


  1. I've been impressed by recent work on chemical signals & communication of emotion. This study, however, makes me raise an eyebrow. My own work shows that facial expressions are not spontaneous indications of emotional reaction to smell. I've been meaning to blog about this new work--thanks for motivating me!

  2. Prince Barry17:46

    Urgh, I wouldn't fancy sniffing collected sweat.

    I remember years ago, probably in a past life, I had a bottle of Jovan's Andron which supposedly contained pheromones. It didn't smell too bad, but when the clear plastic cover, over the top of the bottle came in contact with the juice, it actually reacted and melted the plastic and made it opaque. I didn't wear it very often after that discovery :D

  3. NFS,

    it remains to be seen.
    I sometimes pause to wonder who volunteers at these studies; sweat fetishists maybe? :-D

  4. A,

    I would be most interested to see what you reveal about your own findings!

    I refrained from voicing a personal opinion on the study (and do that a lot when reporting things like that) because we're really not given some crucial parameters on the subjects. Besides there are what is called "micro-expressions" (I was re-watching some BBC docs on the human face) which reveal more and more intimate thoughts than what is generally perceived as "the" defining facial expression on a given stimulus.

    Not to mention that eye-scanning reminds me of the Noh theatrical "language"; a person turning their eyeballs right and left in quick succession is either evil or conniving. :-D

  5. B,

    apparently there are people who would be willing to pay good money to sniff sweaty things and other soiled stuff, as I'm sure every man and woman above a certain age knows. ;-) This -being a subject in such a study, I mean- is by far one of the less "edgy" stuff involving such sniffage (you should search for some of the weirdo Japanese scents commercialized for fetishists displayed on my pages!!).

    Scary and rather puzzling reaction of the plastic. One would assume that by melting it would exacerbate its translucence. Apparently not. I doubt it had to do with the pheromone, though I can see how it would turn you off the scent. Was it any good to begin with? (genuinely curious) And more important still: did it work in your experience? (again scientifically curious)

    1. Anonymous08:27

      Back in the 80s when Andron was sold I bought it and used it exclusively. The results were ncredible. I worked in a hospital lab on midnights. I interacted with primarily females. Women would literally follow me down the hall ways wanting to smell me as long as possible. Sometimes, women would come down to the lab just to get a wiff of the scent. I would go get coffe in the nures lounge in the ER and the nurses, EMTs, x-ray techs, admin girls and others would almost get into fist fights over who was going to sit next to me and even in my lap. I have never in my life had that bmuch attention from women. Several of the women bought it for their husbands, but about half nor more ended up giving it to me because it did not smell the same on the husbands. A couple of those women got the idea of having me wear a plain, white cotten t-shirt at work, then give it to them after work. they then took the shirts home and palced them under ntheir npillows or near the head of their beds and had sex with their husbands. Over a 3 years period I had sex with 11 women at that bhospital, 7 of them were married. three different women I hooked up with followed me home without telling me and wanted to have sex right then and there. The least number of times with any one women was 3 times over 5 months. One of the single girls that I was with for about a year and a half had to change jobs because she nwas getting nmarried. I didn't even know she had a boyfriend until she told me the last night nthat she worked there.I ran into one of those women 3 years ago in a grocery store. We talked for a while and probaly the third or fourth thing she asked was nif I still had the colonge. Sadly I had to tell her no. But, the good thing was that she was single and we have been togther since. Andron for Men was a truly phenomenal fragrance and was well worth the $20 a bottle that it cost back then. If ti were to be reproduced I would gladly pay $100 dollars for a bottle. I have tried some of the online sites that claim that they can duplicate the scent, but so for none of them have come close.

    2. Fascinating (and rather manipulative) story, and hospitals are well known for reputation of illicit sex, though if they were willing to have the T-shirts collected surely some story of your own fancy had been mentioned. Could it be they all had the same idea?

  6. Prince Barry17:50

    Haha,just eaten so no talk of grubby skimpies :D

    It did smell nice, but I never got molested. I was so disapointed and let down that I was going up to strange people in cars and offering them sweeties hahaha.

  7. B,

    I deduce this was at a time when people were actually still doing these things for kicks. One might get arrested now!

  8. Prince Barry06:43

    Haha, only joking E :)

  9. Fascinating as always.
    The Dandy read some large scale research recently - which as always claimed to be conclusive - that stated as we knew pheremones have no smell, but more intriguinglywent on to state that what we understand as the 'sexy' animalic scent was a result of the digestive process of certain axial bacteria...
    Apparently they can feed of other chemical releases as well as the pheremones.
    So it would appear that we maybe just find sweat sexy and are looking for a chemical excuse to do so.
    Bring more worn socks before me... maybe not/
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy


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