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Biol Psychol. 2005 Dec;70(3):197-204. Epub 2005 Mar 24.

Subthreshold amounts of social odorant affect mood, but not behavior, in heterosexual women when tested by a male, but not a female, experimenter.

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Department of Psychology, Uppsala University, Box 1225, SE-751 42 Uppsala, Sweden.


Previously, we have demonstrated that exposure to the endogenous steroid androstadienone has the ability to modulate women's mood in that they feel more focused [Lundstrom, J.N., Goncalves, M., Esteves, F., Olsson, M.J., 2003a. Psychological effects of subthreshold exposure to the putative human pheromone 4,16-androstadien-3-one. Hormones and Behaviour 44 (5), 395-401]. Here, we tested the hypothesis that androstadienone exposure would modulate participating women's mood and corresponding behavior as measured by a sustained attention task. Thirty-seven women participated in a double-blind, within-group experiment and were tested by either a female or a male experimenter. Effects on mood, psychophysiological arousal, sustained attention, and ratings of male facial attractiveness were assessed. Sensory detection of the experimental substance was rigorously controlled for by psychophysical testing. The results showed that exposure to a non-detectable amount of androstadienone modulated women's psychophysiological arousal and mood in a positive direction but did not change attention performance or rating of facial attractiveness. Moreover, mood effects were only evident when an experimenter of the opposite sex conducted the testing. This suggests that social context is important for mood effects of androstadienone exposure in women.

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