Body Odor Quality Predicts Behavioral Attractiveness in Humans



Roberts SC, Kralevich A, Ferdenzi C, Saxton TK, Jones BC, DeBruine LM, Little A & Havlicek J (2011) Body Odor Quality Predicts Behavioral Attractiveness in Humans. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40 (6), pp. 1111-1117.

Growing effort is being made to understand how different attractive physical traits co-vary within individuals, partly because thismight indicate anunderlying indexof genetic quality. In humans, attention has focused on potentialmarkers of quality such as facial attractiveness, axillary odor quality, the second-to-fourth digit (2D:4D) ratio and body mass index (BMI). Here we extend this approach to include visuallyassessed kinesic cues (nonverbal behavior linked tomovement) which are statistically independent of structural physical traits. The utility of such kinesic cues inmate assessment is controversial, particularly during everyday conversational contexts, as they could be unreliable and susceptible to deception. However, we show here that the attractiveness of nonverbal behavior, in 20 male participants, is predicted by perceived quality of their axillary body odor. This finding indicates covariation between two desirable traits in different sensory modalities. Depending on two different rating contexts (either a simple attractiveness rating or a rating for long-term partners by 10 female raters not using hormonal contraception), we also found significant relationships between perceived attractiveness of nonverbal behavior and BMI, and between axillary odor ratings and 2D:4D ratio. Axillary odor pleasantness was the single attribute that consistently predicted attractiveness of nonverbal behavior.Our results demonstrate that nonverbal kinesic cues could reliably reveal mate quality, at least inmales, and could corroborate and contribute to mate assessment based on other physical traits.

Mate choice; Nonverbal behavior; Sexual selection; Olfaction; Good genes

Archives of Sexual Behavior: Volume 40, Issue 6

Publication date31/12/2011

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Professor Craig Roberts
Professor Craig Roberts

Professor of Social Psychology, Psychology