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Author Topic: scents determining sex appeal  (Read 19933 times)

ruyi

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scents determining sex appeal
« on: 13 Jan 2008, 02:42 »

so i'm sure most of you have heard this idea before somewhere, but i still thought this made for pretty interesting reading. there are some things i haven't heard before, too.

article

i'd recommend just reading through all of it. despite being 5 pages it's actually pretty quick and interesting. still, here are some excerpts for the lazy!

the basic principle:

Quote
Research has shown that we use scent-based signaling mechanisms to suss out compatibility. Claus Wedekind, a biologist at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, created Exhibit A of this evidence by giving 44 men new T-shirts and instructing them to wear the shirts for two straight nights. To ensure that the sweat collecting on the shirts would remain "odor-neutral," he supplied the men with scent-free soap and aftershave.

After the men were allowed to change, 49 women sniffed the shirts and specified which odors they found most attractive. Far more often than chance would predict, the women preferred the smell of T-shirts worn by men who were immunologically dissimilar to them. The difference lay in the sequence of more than 100 immune system genes known as the MHC, or major histocompatibility complex. These genes code for proteins that help the immune system recognize pathogens. The smell of their favorite shirts also reminded the women of their past and current boyfriends, suggesting that MHC does indeed influence women's dating decisions in real life.

Women's preference for MHC-distinct mates makes perfect sense from a biological point of view. Ever since ancestral times, partners whose immune systems are different have produced offspring who are more disease-resistant. With more immune genes expressed, kids are buffered against a wider variety of pathogens and toxins.

But that doesn't mean women prefer men whose MHC genes are most different from theirs, as University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Martha McClintock found when she performed a T-shirt study similar to Wedekind's. Women are not attracted to the smell of men with whom they had no MHC genes in common. "This might be a case where you're protecting yourself against a mate who's too similar or too dissimilar, but there's a middle range where you're OK," McClintock says.

as an explanation for miscarriages and cheating:

Quote
Typically, our noses steer us in the right direction when it comes to picking a reproductively compatible partner. But what if they fail us and we wind up with a mate whose MHC profile is too similar to our own? Carol Ober, a geneticist at the University of Chicago, explored this question in her studies of members of the Hutterite religious clan, an Amish-like closed society that consists of some 40,000 members and extends through the rural Midwest. Hutterites marry only other members of their clan, so the variety in their gene pool is relatively low. Within these imposed limits, Hutterite women nevertheless manage to find partners who are MHC-distinct from them most of the time.

The few couples with a high degree of MHC similarity, however, suffered higher rates of miscarriage and experienced longer intervals between pregnancies, indicating more difficulty conceiving. Some scientists speculate that miscarriages may be the body's way of curtailing investment in a child who isn't likely to have a strong immune system anyway.

What's more, among heterosexual couples, similar MHC profiles spell relational difficulty, Christine Garver-Apgar, a psychologist at the University of New Mexico, has found. "As the proportion of MHC alleles increased, women's sexual responsiveness to their partners decreased, and their number of sex partners outside the relationship increased," Garver-Apgar reports. The number of MHC genes couples shared corresponded directly with the likelihood that they would cheat on one another; if a man and woman had 50 percent of their MHC alleles in common, the woman had a 50 percent chance of sleeping with another man behind her partner's back.

potential problems with the pill:

Quote
Women generally prefer the smell of men whose MHC gene complements are different from theirs, setting the stage for the best biological match. But Wedekind's T-shirt study revealed one notable exception to this rule: women on the birth-control pill. When the pill users among his subjects sniffed the array of pre-worn T-shirts, they preferred the scent of men whose MHC profiles were similar to theirs—the opposite of their pill-free counterparts.

This dramatic reversal of smell preferences may reflect the pill's mechanism of action: It prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg, fooling the body into thinking it's pregnant. And since pregnancy is such a vulnerable state, it seems to activate a preference for kin, who are genetically similar to us and likely to serve as protectors. "When pregnant rodent females are exposed to strange males, they can spontaneously abort," Herz says. "The same may be true for human females." What's more, some women report a deficit in sex drive when they take the pill, a possible consequence of its pregnancy-mimicking function.

The tendency to favor mates with similar MHC genes could potentially hamper the durability of pill users' relationships in the long term. While Herz shies away from dubbing hormonal birth control "the divorce pill," as a few media outlets have done in response to her theories, she does think the pill jumbles women's smell preferences. "It's like picking your cousins as marriage partners," Herz says. "It constitutes a biological error." As a result, explains Charles Wysocki, a psychobiologist at Florida State University, when such a couple decides to have children and the woman stops taking birth control, she may find herself less attracted to her mate for reasons she doesn't quite understand. "On a subconscious level, her brain is realizing a mistake was made—she married the wrong guy," he says.

...which leads to problems for strippers on the pill:

Quote
Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico and author of The Mating Mind, noticed the pill's connection to waning male desire while studying a group of exotic dancers—women whose livelihoods depend on how sexually appealing they are to male customers. Non-pill-using dancers made about 50 percent more in tips than dancers on oral contraceptives. In other words, women who were on the pill were only about two-thirds as sexy as women who weren't.

and finally, why them dang kids gotta be all up on each other these days:

Quote
Miller argues that modern hygiene may be such an impediment to sexual signaling that it could explain why so many people in our culture get so physical so fast. "Hunter-gatherers didn't have to do a lot of kissing, because they could smell each other pretty clearly from a few feet away," Miller says. "With all the showering, scents, and soap, we have to get our noses and mouths really up close to people to get a good idea of their biochemistry. People are more motivated to do a lot more kissing and petting, to do that assessment before they have sex." In other words, the need to smell our mates—and the comparative difficulty of doing so in today's environment of perfumes and colognes—may actually be driving the sexual disinhibition of modern society.
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tommydski

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #1 on: 13 Jan 2008, 04:33 »

Very interesting concept. Absolute balderdash but a curious study nonetheless.
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #2 on: 13 Jan 2008, 05:05 »

Well, women do smell much better than men and I do enjoy fucking them significantly more.

I think we can pretty much file this case under "closed"
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Liz

Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #3 on: 13 Jan 2008, 09:25 »

Quote
the body's way of curtailing investment in a child who isn't likely to have a strong immune system anyway.

I laughed at this. Is that bad?
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #4 on: 13 Jan 2008, 09:30 »

If I put money into a promising Indian student, will I collect dividends quarterly? I'm looking to diversify my portfolio into international investments.

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #5 on: 13 Jan 2008, 10:10 »

I dunno how balderdash it is. I started using unscented, natural soap this past year and more than one girl actually found me attractive for the first time in memory.

Jesus Christ that looks really self-pitying. It isn't, honest.
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mooface

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #6 on: 13 Jan 2008, 10:55 »

so if my boyfriend keeps wanting me to wear perfume, and refuses to have sex with me, does this mean i smell funny?
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #7 on: 13 Jan 2008, 10:59 »

It means he is insane.

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #8 on: 13 Jan 2008, 11:04 »

***URGE TO KILL: RISING***
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PacoSees

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #9 on: 13 Jan 2008, 11:08 »

After using Old Spice body wash and deodorant for like, 3 years running, I don't think I'm capable of smelling like natural sweat anymore.

Thank god I have Bruce Campbell to show me the ways of seducing women with the scent of "experience".
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #10 on: 13 Jan 2008, 11:17 »

I am actually inclined to believe some of this, because for some reason smell is kind of important to me, or at least the part where it helps in deciding who to date or not. I don't know about the other stuff, because it makes no sense, but I do like nice smelling boys.
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #11 on: 13 Jan 2008, 12:27 »

Does this work for gay couples too?
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #12 on: 13 Jan 2008, 12:33 »

I like how I smell. Is this a problem?
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #13 on: 13 Jan 2008, 12:35 »

TheGreenRanger: Considering you smell like rotten vagina, yes it is.
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #14 on: 13 Jan 2008, 12:39 »

I dunno how ridiculous the study is, but that is only because smell is pretty important to me. Especially my own: every time my stupid shampoo company changes their formula yet again it takes me weeks to readjust to how I smell to myself. (My hair smells the most of the various parts of my body, I think, because there is the most of it. Also I am not talking about genitals because they smell a lot but most people don't smell them because unless you walk around naked they are generally covered up by clothes.)
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #15 on: 13 Jan 2008, 14:42 »



You can buy these for $2 in pub toilets. As always, pub toilets are at the forefront of harnessing cutting edge scientific research for the advancement of humankind. Although, I got told once that most of these are made with pig pheromones because only one company owns the patents on human pheromones*.



*Source: A Guy in the Pub et al. (2003)
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #16 on: 13 Jan 2008, 14:54 »

Well consider that the sense of smell is stronger for human females than it is for males. There's also been research into the fact that when you suddenly feel really attracted to people for reasons you can't adequately explain it could be because you are actually attracted to their scent. As the sense of smell is no longer all that important in regards to survival in humans, the part of the brain that regulates olfactory sensation (limbic system? it's in the frontal lobe at the very least) is also strongly connected to our emotions which is why particular perfumes make you feel all nostalgic for a past lover or even going on holiday when you were young. So an old love-interest used to wear a particular scent and you meet someone wearing the same scent you will be reminded of the emotions you felt for the past lover (as opposed to the actual person) and therefore mistake that feeling for actual attraction or revulsion.

Very interesting concept. Absolute balderdash but a curious study nonetheless.

Uh, how is it balderdash?
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #17 on: 13 Jan 2008, 15:02 »

It's not balderdash, but it's not an uncontested theory... opponents of the idea point to the fact that the vomeronasal organ (which has been demonstrated to be the primary receptor for pheromones in other mammals) in humans appears vestigial, as nerves linking it to the brain haven't been found, and it's a good deal smaller than in other mammals.
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #18 on: 13 Jan 2008, 15:05 »

I dunno how ridiculous the study is, but that is only because smell is pretty important to me.


Agreed.
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #19 on: 13 Jan 2008, 15:09 »

I think by 'absolute-balderdash', he meant that there are so many other things that factor into relationships these days that it's impractical to really say scent plays that huge a role. I kind of agree with that, but at the same time, I can think of times where I've been attracted to another girls 'natural' smell.

I personally don't wear deodorant, mostly because I'm not a very strong smelling person... But this is kind of interesting, as it really contributes to the whole "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" theory. There's some girls that I'll be like "Man, she's really cute" and my friends will be like "Meh, she's alright.". Then other times my friend'll be like "I'd like to rump in her melon-patch" and I'm like "Not so much, myself.". Come to think of it, it's always seemed like my first-(male)cousin and I have had more similar tastes in girls than my other close-friends. Albeit, I can think of other people that have similar tastes to me, but the fact that someone so near in my gene-pool is similar makes sense. It also makes sense that there are some other people I know with similar tastes.

I'm not really sure about this theory... But it definitely makes sense, in theory.
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Liz

Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #20 on: 13 Jan 2008, 15:32 »

There's also been research into the fact that when you suddenly feel really attracted to people for reasons you can't adequately explain it could be because you are actually attracted to their scent.

That explains a lot. Thank you.
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #21 on: 13 Jan 2008, 15:34 »

Well consider that the sense of smell is stronger for human females than it is for males. There's also been research into the fact that when you suddenly feel really attracted to people for reasons you can't adequately explain it could be because you are actually attracted to their scent. As the sense of smell is no longer all that important in regards to survival in humans, the part of the brain that regulates olfactory sensation (limbic system? it's in the frontal lobe at the very least) is also strongly connected to our emotions which is why particular perfumes make you feel all nostalgic for a past lover or even going on holiday when you were young. So an old love-interest used to wear a particular scent and you meet someone wearing the same scent you will be reminded of the emotions you felt for the past lover (as opposed to the actual person) and therefore mistake that feeling for actual attraction or revulsion.


Hmm, I got this kinda recently. A guy I was seeing about 5 years ago used to smell of a mixture of benson and hedges cigarettes and spearmint gum. I still love that scent to this day... And it's going to be hard to forget again, since he's moving in with his sister and I soon, and there's still a huge attraction there.

Damn science.
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #22 on: 13 Jan 2008, 17:31 »

That sounds more like classical conditioning to me. You now associate benson and hedges cigarettes and spearmint gum with the "good times", triggering a positive response in the brain.

This article is more on the subtle differences in attraction that you get from the smell of someones pheromones, their sweat and other bodily fluids.
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #23 on: 13 Jan 2008, 17:42 »



Hmm, I got this kinda recently. A guy I was seeing about 5 years ago used to smell of a mixture of benson and hedges cigarettes and spearmint gum. I still love that scent to this day... And it's going to be hard to forget again, since he's moving in with his sister and I soon, and there's still a huge attraction there.


Are you a masochist?
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #24 on: 13 Jan 2008, 17:43 »

If yes, PM me for my business card.
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tommydski

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #25 on: 13 Jan 2008, 17:56 »

Uh, how is it balderdash?

Chrasstor hinted at in his post. There's literally thousands of reasons people are attracted to each other. Pick any single reason and make a similar case and it will be equally convincing. Pheromones are being deliberately overplayed to create an interesting article. Write one for Body Language and I will say the same thing. Sure, it's a contributing aspect but in the grand scheme of things, it's a very small factor indeed. Let's be generous and say Pheromones are responsible for 1% of the reason you might be attracted to someone. It's probably closer to 0.1% though. That's tiny to the point of irrelevancy.

Hygiene is a pretty big reason why you might not be attracted to someone but that isn't really the same thing. Never have I been attracted to a female just because she was hygienic. It's pretty much assumed in this day and age. It would be like being attracted to a girl for not being on fire. The opposite is unlikely to the point of ridicule. This was a soft study because the principle was a no-brainer from the off.

Attraction is overwhelmingly psychological. I've probably had a hundred or so relationships of various degrees of seriousness over the years and not a single encounter was to do with smell or pheremones.
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jeph

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #26 on: 13 Jan 2008, 18:00 »

i dunno

i think girls are pretty sexy when they're on fire

    you might say I like "HOT" ladies!
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Ozymandias

Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #27 on: 13 Jan 2008, 18:05 »

Attraction is overwhelmingly psychological. I've probably had a hundred or so relationships of various degrees of seriousness over the years and not a single encounter was to do with smell or pheremones.

That you know of.
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tommydski

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #28 on: 13 Jan 2008, 18:09 »

Maybe they were because of 'The Force'. As long as we are making shit up, let's at least make it amusing.

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #29 on: 13 Jan 2008, 18:15 »

words


Are you a masochist?

I havent quite figured that one out yet  :mrgreen:
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jhocking

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #30 on: 13 Jan 2008, 18:32 »

I've recently become aware of an innate magnetic polarity that causes me to be attracted to women with a slightly higher than normal concentration of iron in their body.

I am intending to write a paper about my findings, with hope of attracting a large government grant with which to expand my research into the influence of electrodynamics on human sexuality.
« Last Edit: 13 Jan 2008, 18:35 by jhocking »
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #31 on: 13 Jan 2008, 18:37 »

Although I pretty much agree completely with what Tommy said, what about all the genetics stuff?

Surely there must be some way that our bodies attract us to those with genetics that compliment complement our own. I'm more interested in the whole 'shirt test' than anything. Did they really take blood samples and compare the genetics of the ladies to the guys they preferred? If so, I think there might be something more important than 0.1% of attraction. That said, I'd definitely say that even with the whole smelly genetics, how you look is still probably much more important.

I'm not so sure about the statistics they've given us in that article. I mean, they pretty much tried to blantantly say straight up in many of their 'studies' that "Hey, we've did a SHIT LOAD of research, and it shows that the reason a lot of relationships don't work is because of the smell that your immune system genetics emit. People who's smells are alike are 10000% more likely to divorce and possible kill each other". I mean, that sounds super believable on paper right? But you really have to wonder how much they're bullshitting(probably a lot).

WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY IS IT JUST SEEMS WAY TOO SIMPLE! HOW COULD THIS NOT HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED BEFORE? WHY ISN'T THE SAYING 'LOVE AT FIRST SMELL'!?

EDIT: I'm aware that the first part and second part of my post contradict,surely it's the two sides of my brain fighting.
« Last Edit: 13 Jan 2008, 19:01 by Chrasstor »
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #32 on: 13 Jan 2008, 18:46 »

compliment
nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #33 on: 13 Jan 2008, 18:50 »

Grammar correction by Joe Hocking

-10 E-Pnorz
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #34 on: 13 Jan 2008, 18:55 »

Scent has definitely turned me off of someone before. My ex-boyfriend decided to buy Old Spice body wash once and we were making out and I was feeling extremely uncomfortable and repulsed but couldn't figure out why. I made us stop and we were just sitting there, both wondering what the hell was going on, and I suddenly realized he smelled like my dad.


Needless to say he never used that body wash again. *shudder*
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #35 on: 13 Jan 2008, 19:13 »

I think you are missing the boat here, it's not "this guy smells like old spice, I don't like the smell of old spice" that this article is trying to say, they're trying to say that on some kind of subconscious level you smell a dude after a workout and say "this dude will provide greater genetic variation for my offspring, making them less prone to genetic defect, thus more likely to throw my genetic material into further generations."

You people are talking about classical conditioning, which is where you form associations between smells and people.
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #36 on: 13 Jan 2008, 19:55 »

Hm.  I'm interested in the part about women on the pill.  I have never experienced a lower sex drive despite being on it.  I somehow personally have a harder time believing that men are less attracted to women on the pill; how do they know?  I'd like to learn more about that part.  Curious.
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PacoSees

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #37 on: 13 Jan 2008, 19:58 »

I actually found it to be some kind of sixth sense this past semester.  6 times out of 7, I could tell if the girl was on the pill or not.  It might be some subtle behavior thing I picked up, but if you wait til May, I can try some "formal" experiments.
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #38 on: 13 Jan 2008, 20:03 »

Really?  That's beyond weird.  I should conduct a poll around campus; just walk around and ask guys if they think I'm on the pill or not. 

Were you less attracted to those 6 girls you knew were on the pill?
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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #39 on: 13 Jan 2008, 20:04 »

Hm.  I'm interested in the part about women on the pill.  I have never experienced a lower sex drive despite being on it.  I somehow personally have a harder time believing that men are less attracted to women on the pill; how do they know?  I'd like to learn more about that part.  Curious.

Yeah, I have a hard time believing that too.
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Nodaisho

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #40 on: 13 Jan 2008, 20:07 »

Well consider that the sense of smell is stronger for human females than it is for males.
Really? Could you link me to a study on that? I would hate to have a more sensitive nose than I already have, it is freakish.

And I thought Jeph hated puns. Did he come over to the dark side?

This is a really interesting idea, I want to keep an eye on the studies, I don't have any experience to speak from though.
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PacoSees

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #41 on: 13 Jan 2008, 20:24 »

Really?  That's beyond weird.  I should conduct a poll around campus; just walk around and ask guys if they think I'm on the pill or not. 

Were you less attracted to those 6 girls you knew were on the pill?

No, I think I was equally as attracted, but if you give me a couple days, I can recall better.

I'm actually curious about what would happen if you went around asking random guys like that.
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captain zoe

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #42 on: 13 Jan 2008, 20:32 »

Yeah.  I'm sure it would procure some really weird ass results.  Or probably some even weirder responses. 
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Slick

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #43 on: 13 Jan 2008, 21:04 »

For the record, the article is not about pheromones, but scents, which are kind of different. Pheromones are often abused in pop-science and science fiction, but they aren't what this study is about.

I also think what Jimmy said was that smell is better at triggering emotional/nostalgic responses than regular conditioning because of how it is tied in with the limbic system. It produces responses that we don't immediately intellectually recognize as being something since our smell isn't nearly as fine-tuned as our vision and hearing. So, yes, it is conditioning, but it hits you emotionally and kind of sub-consciously.
I personally find scent to be incredibly powerful at bringing back memories, specifically sad and melancholy ones. I had to find paths that avoided walking past one lady's cubicle at work because of her perfume, else I'd feel like crap while we ate lunch.

Smell obviously doesn't always work, though.

And remember that while you read the article, it is an article about someone's research, not the person's research. I think it is not balderdash, though it's importance may have been overplayed.
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Boro_Bandito

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #44 on: 13 Jan 2008, 21:12 »

stay away from pheromones, and sex panther while we're at it.


Wash and be clean, smell nice and people will talk to you, smell bad and they'll make fun of you and not talk to you.
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Yeah, I mean, "I won't kill and eat you if you won't kill and eat me" is typically a ground rule for social groups.

Johnny C

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #45 on: 13 Jan 2008, 21:17 »

I dunno dude, I was pretty sweaty around the time of this photo and as you can see I am a total stud.
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Boro_Bandito

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #46 on: 13 Jan 2008, 21:23 »

at that moment your overpowering sense of rock far outweighed a little bit of B.O.


duh.
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Yeah, I mean, "I won't kill and eat you if you won't kill and eat me" is typically a ground rule for social groups.

Slick

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #47 on: 13 Jan 2008, 21:31 »

That guy standing next to you is obviously dry like <awful mom joke stricken> because he is all kinds of not-rock.
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It's a roasted cocoa bean, commonly found in vaginas.

Johnny C

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #48 on: 13 Jan 2008, 21:33 »

He is actually rocking but he reins it in, favouring instead things like "staying in tune" and "playing the right notes."
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leperphiliac

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Re: scents determining sex appeal
« Reply #49 on: 14 Jan 2008, 22:36 »

In my own experience I've noticed a strong connection to the way a person smells and my level of attraction to them. Once, in high school, I was sitting next to the boy I was dating and waves of scent were coming off him. At the time I thought it was the sexiest thing ever. That's just one example.

I like the theory that overzealous bathing is causing people to need prolonged close physical contact to sniff each other out, but another possibility is that bathing makes it possible - who wants to smooch someone who smells like rotten feet and armpits?
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