Preference for human body odors is influenced by gender and sexual orientation

Psychol Sci. 2005 Sep;16(9):694-701. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2005.01598.x.


Human body odor may contribute to selection of partners. If so, sexual orientation may influence preference for and perhaps production of human body odors. In a test of these hypotheses, heterosexual and homosexual males and females made two-alternative forced-choice preference judgments for body odors obtained from other heterosexual and homosexual males and females. Subjects chose between odors from (a) heterosexual males and gay males, (b) heterosexual males and heterosexual females, (c) heterosexual females and lesbians, and (d) gay males and lesbians. Results indicate that differences in body odor are detected and responded to on the basis of, in part, an individual's gender and sexual orientation. Possible mechanisms underlying these findings are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Female
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odorants*
  • Pheromones
  • Sexual Behavior*


  • Pheromones