There have been a lot of talk recently about the existence of pheromone-based colognes on the market. A lot of people would like to know if it’s a viable method of attracting the opposite sex while others sideline it as simply more pseudoscience. The reality of the matter is that they do indeed work, but the level to which they work depends on a number of factors aside from the pheromones themselves. The human being, being a higher complex organism, has the ability to override the base urges of the less developed brain system in favor of decisions generated by the regions of the brain responsible for higher thought. Jonathan D. Cohen explains that,
“Emotions may explain inconsistencies in human behavior and forms of behavior that some have deemed irrational, though such behavior may seem more sensible after a discussion of the functions that emotions serve-or may have once served in our evolutionary past.”
The human brain has evolved to the point where interaction is no longer governed by simple chemical processes. Let’s take a look at how some of the other extraneous decision-making processes come to affect the impact of pheromones on attraction.
Attractive Physical and Social Traits
Although pheromones are responsible for generating sexual interest in an individual, it is coupled to the physical attractiveness of the individual as regards the beholder’s understanding of what is desirable. These are partially societal and partially biological. The biological imperative of reproduction seeks to create the most adaptive and advantageous offspring from the available gene pool. Thus, dominant genes that are expressed take precedence over genes that are recessive and as such the expressed genes tend to generate interest in the form of physical attractiveness.
The ability of the human being to think at a higher cognitive level allows for the introduction of societal values that go hand in hand with the physically attractive traits that would already be considered desirable. Thus, traits such as kindness, intelligence, etc. would be considered socially desirable and would be coupled with physically attractive traits to generate a level of interest that would be heightened by the presence of pheromones.
Receptiveness to Pheromones
The female of the species is usually the one that determines the frequency of mating due to the incidence of her menses. In the the human animal, when the female is in her menses, certain characteristics of the opposite sex tend to stand out more than any other time of the month. Doctors Perrett and Penton-Voak note in an article published in the ‘Journal of Evolution and Human Behavior’ that,
“Recent studies demonstrate cyclic changes in female sexual behavior and preferences for odors and facial characteristics that may reflect conditional mating strategies.”
The preference for odors is most telling since it is in this sense that women on their menses tend to be more susceptible to suggestion due to pheromone release in the male. This is a very important result when considering the use of pheromones as an attractiveness agent, since it suggests that certain women tend to find certain types of men more attractive during certain times of their menstrual cycle.
Overall, the idea that pheromones cause attractiveness is an over-simplification of the issue. Although pheromones, especially those contained within colognes, can cause attractiveness, it is by no means the only factor that affects the choosing of a mate. Depending on the time of the month and the inherent attractiveness of the individual due to physical and social traits, pheromones may have more or less work to do. It is an accepted thought though, that pheromone-based colognes do tend to help out the situation. It is unlikely and improbable that wearing them will make your attractiveness suffer.