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Horm Behav. 2009 Feb;55(2):280-4. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2008.11.009. Epub 2008 Dec 11.

Romantic love modulates women's identification of men's body odors.

Author information

1
Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3308, USA. jlundstrom@monell.org

Abstract

Romantic love is one of our most potent and powerful emotions, but very little is known with respect to the hormonal and psychological mechanisms in play. Romantic love is thought to help intimate partners stay committed to each other and two mechanisms have been proposed to mediate this commitment: increased attention towards one's partner or deflected attention away from other potential partners. Both mechanisms find support in the literature. We explored the potential influence of each of these mechanisms by assessing women's ability to identify (ID) body odors originating from their boyfriend, a same-sex friend, and an opposite-sex friend and the relationship between this ability and the degree of romantic love expressed towards their boyfriend. We hypothesized that an increase in attention towards one's partner would render a positive correlation between ID of a boyfriend's body odor and degree of romantic love; conversely, we hypothesized that attention deflected away from other potential partners would render a negative correlation between ID of an opposite-sex friend's body odor and degree of romantic love for the boyfriend. Our results supported the deflection theory as we found a negative correlation between the degree of romantic love for the subjects' boyfriends and their ability to ID the body odor of an opposite-sex friend but not of their boyfriend or same-sex friend. Our results indicate that romantic love deflects attention away from potential new partners rather than towards the present partner. These changes are likely mediated by circulating neuropeptides and a testable model is suggested.

PMID:
19118557
DOI:
10.1016/j.yhbeh.2008.11.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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