Book Chapter

Individual variation in body odor



Havlicek J, Fialova J & Roberts SC (2017) Individual variation in body odor. In: Buettner A (ed.) The Springer Handbook of Odor. Cham: Springer, pp. 125-126.;

Humans produce numerous volatile compounds from different areas of the body, either as a direct result of metabolic processes or indirectly via metabolismof resident microflora. Body odors vary between individuals, partly due to genetic differences, but odors of the same individual also vary across time due to environmental influences. We discuss how at least part of the genetic influence appears to be related to certain personality characteristics and to sexual orientation. We then review the current state of the art in terms of intraindividual variation, including effects of intrinsic factors, such as hormonal influences on body odor and environmental factors, namely effects of diet and certain diseases. Some of these changes can be perceived by other individuals and might therefore provide social cues of current motivational, nutritional, and health status. Finally, we discuss how specific odor profiles associated with certain infectious diseases and metabolic disorders can be used as a cheap and efficient medical screening tool.

Publication date31/12/2017
Publisher URL
Place of publicationCham

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Professor Craig Roberts

Professor Craig Roberts

Professor of Social Psychology, Psychology