Do masculine men smell better? An association between skin color masculinity and female preferences for body odor

Mariana L. Carrito, Isabel M. Santos, Laura Alho, Jacqueline Ferreira, Sandra C. Soares, Pedro Bem-Haja, Carlos F. Silva, David I. Perrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

A recent study claimed face skin color as a sexually dimorphic variable that influences attractiveness preferences in mate choice. Thereby, skin color may assume the role of a mate quality signal influencing attractiveness preferences. As body odor is linked to attractiveness, this study aimed to explore whether the odors of men with more masculine facial skin color would be evaluated more positively than odors from less masculine men. Female raters were presented with body odors of 18 men and were asked to rate them in various characteristics. Multilevel modelling revealed that the odors of the donors with more masculine color were rated not only as more attractive, more pleasant, and sexier, but also healthier. This indicates that odor associated with men with more masculine skin color is attractive, just as other sexually dimorphic traits. Furthermore, we found a negative relation between skin color masculinity and perceived odor maleness. Regarding this last finding, a new discussion is introduced with respect to the influence of cognitive stereotypes in odor judgments. Altogether, the study supports the possibility that chemosensory signals may be communicating signs of mate quality associated with masculinity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-275
Number of pages7
JournalChemical Senses
Volume42
Issue number3
Early online date11 Feb 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • Olfaction
  • Scent
  • Attractiveness
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Male coloration
  • Mate preferences

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