Sex differences in odor identification ability: a cross-cultural analysis

Neuropsychologia. 1985;23(5):667-72. doi: 10.1016/0028-3932(85)90067-3.


To ascertain the generality of a sex difference noted in odor identification ability, the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) was administered to four groups of subjects: Black Americans (n = 438), White Americans (n = 1559), Korean Americans (n = 106), and Native Japanese (n = 308). The women of all four groups outperformed the men to the same relative degree. The Korean American group performed better than the Black and White American groups, which, in turn, outperformed the Native Japanese. Analyses of the proportions of subjects correctly answering each of the test items revealed considerable similarity of relative item difficulty among the subject groups. Taken together, these data suggest that sex differences in odor identification ability are probably not due to ethnic or cultural factors, per se.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Korea / ethnology
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Smell / physiology*
  • United States