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Vitam Horm. 2010;83:25-45. doi: 10.1016/S0083-6729(10)83002-X.

Female perception of male body odor.

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Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, United Kingdom.


Olfaction is one of the most crucial forms of communication among nonhuman animals. Historically, olfaction has been perceived as being of limited importance for humans, but recent research has documented that not only do humans have sensitive olfactory abilities, but also odors have the potential to influence our physiology and behavior. This chapter reviews research on olfactory communication among humans, focusing on the effects of male bodily odors on female physiology and behavior. The process of body odor production and the detection of olfactory signals are reviewed, focusing on potential sex differences in these abilities. The effects of male body odors on female physiological and behavioral effects of body odors are considered. Finally, with specific regard to female mate choice, evidence regarding the influence of the major histocompatibility complex and fluctuating asymmetry on male olfactory cues is reviewed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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