Effect of biological relatedness on perfume selection for others: Preliminary evidence



Sobotkova M, Fialova J, Roberts SC & Havlicek J (2017) Effect of biological relatedness on perfume selection for others: Preliminary evidence. Perception, 46 (3-4), pp. 498-515.

People tend to choose perfumes to complement their body odour. As kin share some body odour qualities, their ability to select complementary perfumes for relatives might be higher compared to selection for non-relatives. We tested this in two studies, comparing selection of a perfume for a target man by himself and by either a familiar but unrelated individual (girlfriend; Study 1) or a relative (sister; Study 2). Target men applied the two perfumes (own/other’s choice) to their axillae and then wore cotton pads for 12h. Collected perfume-body odour blends and perfumes alone were assessed by rater panels. In Study 1, the blends were rated as nominally more pleasant when body odours were mixed with the perfumes selected by girlfriends compared to those selected by target men themselves. In Study 2, body odours mixed with perfumes selected by sisters were rated significantly more attractive than those mixed with perfumes selected by target men. No significant differences were found for attractiveness and pleasantness ratings when perfumes were rated alone, suggesting that it was the resulting blends that were uniquely different. Our results indicate that sisters might be particularly tuned to select suitable perfumes for their siblings.

body odour; fragrance choice; chemical communication; smell; kinship

Perception: Volume 46, Issue 3-4

Publication date31/03/2017
Publication date online07/12/2016
Date accepted by journal31/10/2016

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Professor Craig Roberts

Professor Craig Roberts

Professor of Social Psychology, Psychology