Past, Present, and Future of Human Chemical Communication Research



Loos HM, Schaal B, Pause BM, Smeets MAM, Ferdenzi C, Roberts SC, de Groot J, Lubke KT, Croy I, Freiherr J, Bensafi M, Hummel T & Havlicek J (2023) Past, Present, and Future of Human Chemical Communication Research. Perspectives on Psychological Science, Art. No.: 17456916231188147.

Although chemical signaling is an essential mode of communication in most vertebrates, it has long been viewed as having negligible effects in humans. However, a growing body of evidence shows that the sense of smell affects human behavior in social contexts ranging from affiliation and parenting to disease avoidance and social threat. This article aims to (a) introduce research on human chemical communication in the historical context of the behavioral sciences; (b) provide a balanced overview of recent advances that describe individual differences in the emission of semiochemicals and the neural mechanisms underpinning their perception, that together demonstrate communicative function; and (c) propose directions for future research toward unraveling the molecular principles involved and understanding the variability in the generation, transmission, and reception of chemical signals in increasingly ecologically valid conditions. Achieving these goals will enable us to address some important societal challenges but are within reach only with the aid of genuinely interdisciplinary approaches.

olfaction; body odor; social interactions; behaviour

Perspectives on Psychological Science

StatusIn Press
Publication date online30/09/2023
Date accepted by journal22/08/2023
PublisherSAGE Publications

People (1)


Professor Craig Roberts

Professor Craig Roberts

Professor of Social Psychology, Psychology