Pheromones have long been considered important to the behavioral development of animals across the delineations of kingdom and phylum. Tristram D. Wyatt, from the University of Oxford defines a pheromone as,
“Substances secreted to the outside and received by another individual of the same species…”
To break it down, pheromones are basically the chemicals that cause interaction between members of the same species on a level that is conducive to the reproduction of the individuals and the continuation of the species. Scientists have known about pheromones and their role in reproduction in the animal kingdom for ages. However, recent research has taken to studying human pheromones and their effect on the reproductive behavior of the human species. Here is a short discussion on how pheromones can change the way you think about the human being and their mating rituals.
The Controversy over Human Pheromone Communication
Pheromones exist in the animal kingdom and are responsible for interactive behavior across a species, but is the human being too advanced to give in to primal urges generated by possible pheromone stimulation? Wysocki and Preti state in an abstract published in ‘The Anatomical Record Journal’ that,
“Data on humans have generated the greatest controversy regarding the existence of pheromonal communication.”
As it stands, there are a lot of unknowns regarding the human pheromone interaction component. Even though there are experimental data to suggest that the human being can and does react to scent stimulus from cross-gender pheromones, much about the mechanics of the interaction is still unknown. Present research in the field have determined a number of factors that work hand in hand with pheromone reception to cause attraction, but there is much to be discovered still. The research on this topic is ongoing, and each day researchers are uncovering new and startling insights into human reproductive behavior.
The Scent of Sex
Communication via scents is nothing new to the animal kingdom. It is at times far more efficient a method of communication than visually based cues. However, it is only recently that the human olfactory system has received its due as a viable method of communication across the sexes via scent. Grammer et al. note,
“Several studies indicate that humans indeed seem to use olfactory communication and are even able to produce and perceive certain pheromones; recent studies have found that pheromones may play an important role in the behavioral and reproduction biology of humans.”
From the last section, we remember that the experimental data has suggested that there may be a viable link between smell and sexual desire. In the case of the human animal, there exists a possibility that these scent receptors are viable for the communication of mating desire across the gender divide, but once again, science lacks one hundred percent concrete proof of the phenomenon.
The Mechanics of Attraction
We accept now that there is a receptor that responds to the chemical (or scent) stimulus produced by human pheromones, but exactly how does this translate into attraction? It would be quite one-dimensional to say that a chemical reaction translates directly into attraction. As McClintock suggests,
“That the notion of a single-chemical ‘magic bullet’ irresistibly leading to a preprogrammed result is too simplistic despite documented examples of special stimuli acting via the vomeronasal organ.”
The mechanics of attraction lead us to surmise that although pheromones do play a part in the final decision of choosing a mate, there exists a number of other factors ranging from physical attractiveness to level of intelligence and communication skills. It is a combined effort of all these factors that lead to mating being a viable outcome from a meeting.
The Effect of Mood
The attractiveness of a potential mate and how the pheromones interact with the recipient is directly related to the mood of the recipient at the point in time that the pheromones reach him or her. Generally speaking, the biological imperative of pheromones is to attract a mate and to make another person find the subject desirable. However, this requires interaction on a chemical level to release hormones into the recipient’s bloodstream that lead to attraction and eventually a bond being formed through further interaction. When it comes to the mood of the recipient, the communication of these chemicals is hindered or outright denied if the mood of the receiver is not one favorable to a meeting or mating encounter. In the animal kingdom, this is less of an issue since the animal usually is interested in mating once the female is in its menses. It is slightly different for humans, due to the fact that we display a level of higher cognitive senses. The ability of the human being to actively sideline the biological imperative is unique to this species. Setting the mood is very important to ensuring that the pheromones perform their biological task.
Although natural human pheromones are produced in low quantities, the regular production of these pheromones can be supplemented by others that can be located in body washes or fragrances. There is a lot of debate on how well these artificial means of pheromone attraction work, but the overarching consensus is that it is a viable strategy for getting attention from the opposite sex. The aforementioned ability of the human animal to actively sideline the pheromone-generated biological imperative is of concern though, and fragrances such as those by themselves aren’t a guarantor of a mating encounter.
Although the existence of human pheromones is a biological fact, the level to which they cause human interaction varies based on the individual in question. Pheromones are only useful as an added incentive to communication rather than an encouragement to begin discourse. Understanding how the human pheromone system works is essential in figuring out how these particular pheromones react with members of the opposite sex and how they can help in securing a mate. However, it should be noted that the pheromone factor is but a single reason for the attraction of a gender couple. The human being is a much more complex system than can be governed and run by the likes of simple chemical communication.