Sex differences in human olfaction: between evidence and enigma

Q J Exp Psychol B. 2001 Aug;54(3):259-70. doi: 10.1080/02724990143000045.


The sex of individuals plays an important part in determining their olfactory abilities, with females generally being superior to males. The present review examines the way in which sex differences influence sensitivity, identification, familiarity, and recognition of odours. It also examines whether sex differences are more pronounced with some odours than others, and how sex differences are affected by the manner of testing. Two different explanations for the superiority of females over males in olfaction are evaluated.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Smell / physiology*