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PLoS One. 2013 May 22;8(5):e62499. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062499. Print 2013.

A putative human pheromone, androstadienone, increases cooperation between men.

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1
Department of Behavioural Sciences and Philosophy, Psychology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.

Abstract

Androstadienone, a component of male sweat, has been suggested to function as a human pheromone, an airborne chemical signal causing specific responses in conspecifics. In earlier studies androstadienone has been reported to increase attraction, affect subjects' mood, cortisol levels and activate brain areas linked to social cognition, among other effects. However, the existing psychological evidence is still relatively scarce, especially regarding androstadienone's effects on male behaviour. The purpose of this study was to look for possible behavioural effects in male subjects by combining two previously distinct branches of research: human pheromone research and behavioural game theory of experimental economics. Forty male subjects participated in a mixed-model, double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment. The participants were exposed to either androstadienone or a control stimulus, and participated in ultimatum and dictator games, decision making tasks commonly used to measure cooperation and generosity quantitatively. Furthermore, we measured participants' salivary cortisol and testosterone levels during the experiment. Salivary testosterone levels were found to positively correlate with cooperative behaviour. After controlling for the effects of participants' baseline testosterone levels, androstadienone was found to increase cooperative behaviour in the decision making tasks. To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that androstadienone directly affects behaviour in human males.

PMID:
23717389
PMCID:
PMC3661594
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0062499
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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