How we find each other with the help of smell

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Europeans find the Chanel perfume smell pleasant, and the New Guinean Papuans hate it, but they love the smell of pork fat. Why do different cultures evaluate smell in their own way, what role do fragrances play in our lives, how do we choose a partner based on our own scent, and why should couples not sleep under one blanket?

World of smells

Many animals evaluate each other not by external data, but by smell. Look at your dog, which “reads” the marks of other dogs in the yard. With the help of only a scent, she can understand that a new male has appeared in the house, and the next-door female has started estrus.

Surprisingly, even beautiful butterflies recognize each other primarily by their aroma. The motley appearance of a beautiful lepidopteran is not important to the male: the main thing is her smell. They are not able to identify each other externally and fish, but they recognize representatives of their species by smell. And by the way, predators too. The same mechanisms are used by other animals.

The famous anthropologist Marina Butovskaya in her book “Body Language: Nature and Culture” talks about an interesting experience that was carried out in Kuwait in 1995: “The government of this country imported wolf urine from Sweden. Highways and city streets were processed with this urine to make the camels stay away. The experiment was completely successful: the smell of wolf urine had a deterrent effect on camels, and the number of accidents on the roads from a collision of cars with camels sharply decreased.”

Pheromones are different. Sexual attractants are responsible for attraction to the opposite sex. Odnichnions are marks by which an animal finds its way to a house or prey, animals mark their territory with them (with their help, for example, “smart” ants tell relatives not only that there is a dead caterpillar nearby, but also that how to get to it). Thori Bones stand out in case of danger and indicate fear and anxiety. With their help, the relatives of the injured animal learn about the danger that the place where they attacked it could be fraught. Lichnevmones disguise animals under a different look (they help to escape from predators). Ethophones are pheromones of behavior, with their help you can send different signals to other individuals.

For a huge number of animals, the outside world is a world of smells. We are used to believing that scent has a very indirect meaning for us. On the one hand, there is some truth to this. Many primates also perceive the world primarily by smell. These are the so-called strepsirhine ones (galago, sifaki, lori, lemurs, arms, and so on).


We, along with marmosets, macaques, chimpanzees or gorillas, belong to the haplorin suborder, for which visual images and sound play the largest role. The olfactory lobes of our brain are small, and the nasal concha are poorly developed. But this does not mean that we do not use our nose. We use it – and how. It’s just that the information that we read by smell remains outside our consciousness, so we are not used to thinking about the serious role of smell in our lives. But science proves the opposite.

Pheromones and all-all-all

Scientists believe that people have an even subtler sense of smell than monkeys. This is due to the fact that a person has more developed cognitive abilities. Our brain is able to extract more information from the aromas surrounding it than the brain of other primates.


The pleasant smell of food can not only stimulate appetite, but also plays a huge role in the process of its adoption. People with impaired sense of smell, as you know, almost do not feel the taste of food. But the smell of potential sexual partners plays the most important role in our knowledge of the world. At the same time, we inhale not only the perfume of another person – we are primarily interested in the aroma of his body. Moreover, we just need to inhale the natural smell of another (even if we are not aware of it), although our culture tries to mask it. However, the smell of perfume is also pleasant to us, therefore we are inclined to pay attention to it – otherwise perfume corporations would simply go broke, and the girls would not shower themselves with perfume so abundantly. This is because it acts as a different type of pheromone, attracting potential partners, and is seen as an alternative to working out and using our natural aroma. Lots of companies have recently been attempting to create perfumes and aftershaves that incorporate pheromones into them, making the wearer even more attractive to potential partners. It has been difficult to do but now they are considered among some of the best aftershaves because of their natural ability.

Numerous studies show that male pheromone, which increases the attractiveness in the eyes of women, is androstenol, but androstenone, on the contrary, gives rise to a repulsive impression. Both that and another substance is contained in the natural secretions of men.

The smell of our body is primarily the smell of sweat, although sexual excretion also plays a large role. Each person has his own unique aroma: it consists of a certain combination of valerianic, caproic, caprylic, butyric, and other acids. It depends on the genes and determines its chemical structure of pheromones – substances that secrete glands of external secretion. With the help of pheromones, we, like other living creatures, communicate with each other at the chemical level. However, there are times when the pheromone level is low. What can a person do in such a situation? There are brands such as True Pheromones and other similar ones which could help in increasing the pheromone levels. Wearing perfumes or colognes that contain pheromones could help in sustaining the natural aroma in a human being.

Do not sleep under one blanket

Despite the fact that many of us hardly think about the role of smell in the process of choosing a sexual partner, scientists believe that it is not just important, but perhaps even plays one of the main roles in the sexual attractiveness of both men and women. Have you ever wondered why people who have quite a dull appearance sometimes enjoy great success with the opposite sex? An important role here, of course, can be played by inner charm and many other behavioral characteristics. But the odor factor is not excluded.

One of the reasons why married couples lose their sexual interest in each other is, among other things, that they … sleep under the same blanket. It is proved that in this case, people get tired of certain areas of the brain that are associated with sexual desire, due to the high concentration of sexual attractants that forms under the covers.

“The American writer Herbert Wells had a very ordinary appearance. Nevertheless, being still unknown to anyone, he enjoyed great popularity among women. For a long time, one of his colleagues could not understand what was the secret of this success. Once, unable to stand it, he asked the lady in love with Wells what she had found in him. She closed her eyes and blissfully replied: “He smells like honey,” “cites an example in his book” In the world of smells and sounds “, doctor of medical sciences Sergey Ryazantsev.

Another case related to a famous character, says Marina Butovskaya. “According to historical information, Napoleon preferred the smell of the body over all perfumes. It was the smell of the body that acted on him especially excitingly. Returning from the next campaign, he sent Josephine a letter with a message on purpose: “I’m going to stop washing,” she writes.

Scientists have found that people who have undergone plastic surgery in the area of ​​the vomeronasal organ (it is located near the tip of the nose, on the septum) often lose their sex drive. A number of men in such cases develop impotence. Sergei Ryazantsev describes a case where he observed a patient who completely lost interest in the opposite sex, losing her ability to smell.

I recognize you from a thousand

Studies show that we evaluate a sexual partner as more attractive if we like its smell. Marina Butovskaya says that such a feature may be needed in order to “read” a set of genes from a potential partner and, thus, to avoid inbreeding. At the conscious level, we often choose the second half according to the principle of similarity – for example, according to the level of intelligence, education or growth. Everything is exactly the opposite, when our nose comes in: everything happens solely on the basis of difference. Of course, not only our sense of smell, but also our sight and hearing are involved in this most complicated process. But odor, surprisingly, plays far from the last role, and perhaps one of the first.


“The attractiveness of men by smell varies depending on the menstrual cycle of women,” Butovskaya writes. – During the period of maximum receptivity, the sexuality of a man’s smell positively correlates with the attractiveness of his face and is negatively associated with the asymmetry of the body (according to three signs: height and width of the ear, width of the foot). This means that women in the period of maximum probability of conception prefer the smell of men who have the greatest external attractiveness and symmetry. On the contrary, in the phase of minimal receptivity, men with the most attractive appearance smell the least sexually for women.”

Scientists have shown that women have a greater olfactory susceptibility than men, so the smell plays a significant role for them. Some representatives of the beautiful half of humanity, as shown by some studies, are able to choose a partner mainly for flavor, while for men, the main role is still played by the appearance of the lady.

Although her smell can also have a big effect on a man. It is proved, for example, that women who are in the ovulation phase of the menstrual cycle are more attractive to men. The fact is that at the peak of ovulation, the female body secrete the maximum number of copulins – female pheromones that increase attractiveness. The vomeronasal organ of the latter “reads” information on the number of copulins, although this happens absolutely unconsciously.

A strange smell

We need our scent not only for choosing a loved one, but also for communication in general (for example, people are able to read the “smell of fear” from their interlocutor), and also for identifying “friends” and “strangers”. Scientists have found that, in principle, we are able to distinguish each other by smell. And not only adults, but also infants. It is shown that mother and baby can recognize each other by smell already from the first days after birth. By the age of three to six, children are able to identify their brothers and sisters by smell, and adults are able to identify sexual partners.

And yes, you should not think that the aroma of newfangled perfumes, pleasant in one culture, will also be pleasant in another. Like the canons of beauty, different “canons” of pleasantness of smell differ in different ethnic groups. Chanel perfumes, which are used by Europeans, repel representatives of traditional cultures. For example, the inhabitants of New Guinea. But they like the smell of pork fat, since pork is considered the best food. Russians do not like the aroma of fried herring, but the Vietnamese adore it, since this ingredient is an important component of their national dish.

In Western culture, the smell of sweat is considered unpleasant and repulsive, but in the same traditional societies – on the contrary. People strive not only to demonstrate their natural aroma, but they want to literally “share” it with their neighbors. “At gijingali – one of the Australian tribes of Arnhemland (peninsula in northern Australia. – Approx. Aut.) – a man says goodbye to another man, rubbing his armpits with his hands, and after that rubs his friend’s side with the smell of his sweat. During the trance dance of the Bushmen, the dancers transfer their sweat from the armpit and from the face to the patient, “writes Marina Butovskaya.

Contrary to a widespread stereotype, women sweat more than men. The former emit on average 20 thousand liters of sweat in their life, the latter – 18 thousand. The most important source of human body odor is armpits.

But even some European peoples still have archaic traditions that are similar to those of primitive peoples. So, in some parts of Austria and the Mediterranean, young guys spend a dance with a handkerchief in their armpits, and then wave it in front of the girls. It is possible that such a ritual among these nationalities plays a decisive role in the creation of new cells of society. The world of smells controls us to a much greater degree than we think.


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