Two recent studies have revealed the complex interactions between pheromones, sexual orientation and attraction – suggesting that our sense of smell may be an important part of the turn-on.
In particular, participants were asked to guess sexual orientation from the person’s scent.
Wysocki found that gay men preferred odours from gay men and heterosexual women, whereas odours from gay men were found least attractive by women and straight men.
A possible biological basis for this effect has been suggested by a brain scanning study completed by a research team led by Ivanka Savic Berglund.
Berglund found that male pheromones caused similar brain activity in gay men as it did in straight women, although the effect was not found in straight men.
A similar brain activity pattern was found for straight men however, but only when they were exposed to an oestrogen based chemical.
Even the fine-grained preferences of individuals might be important. Research by Claus Wedekind has suggested that such preferences are optimised to match-up people with complementary genes for immunity.
Link to article on Wysocki’s body odour study from plebius.org
Link to article on Berglund’s brain scanning study from New Scientist.
Link to article on smell and sexual attraction from Psychology Today.