Most women have heard that body odors play a role in sexual attraction. I mean, why else would we spend money on pheromone-laced oils? Oh, maybe that was just me. Anyway, did you realize that being in love affects our perception and processing of body odors? According to a study performed in Montreal, women who are deeply in love can recognize their partner’s scent, but are unable to recognize the scent of male friends who might be rivals for their affection.The researchers asked a group of 20 young women with boyfriends to fill out a Passionate Love Scale questionnaire to figure out just how in love they were. Then the women’s boyfriends and male and female friends slept for seven nights in a T-shirt with pads sewn into the armpits to soak up their sweat. After the body odors were retrieved, the women were asked in several trials to pick out their partner’s or a friend’s T-shirt from three garments, two of which had been worn by strangers. The women’s scores on the love questionnaire made no difference in whether they were able to recognize their lover’s or female friends’ T-shirt. However, the women who were deeply in love were less accurate in distinguishing the odors of their male friends from that of strangers.
This study backs up a romantic attraction theory known as “deflection,” which argues being in love with someone causes a reduction in the amount of attention we give to other potential mates. But I wonder if these findings would change at all if the women surveyed were lesbians. Would they be less able to recognize the scent of female friends, but have no problem recognizing the scent of their partner and male friends? If not, that would mean lesbians are more prone to roaming eyes, er, noses, a fact I don’t think is true. Besides furthering our knowledge of the human brain and proving that a woman in love will always be able to find her man’s dirty laundry, this study really isn’t that groundbreaking. But it does explain why we’re all so in love with Robert Pattinson despite his dirty, unwashed, stinky hair. [NewScientist]