Wearing deodorant makes men who are seen as low in masculinity more attractive to women, new research finds.
The boost to attractiveness was not seen for men whose faces are already perceived as being high in masculinity.
The research underlines the fact that women are more sensitive to odours than men.
Dr Caroline Allen, who led the study, said:
“We’re all aware that fragrances are often marketed as being feminine or masculine – take Old Spice for instance, who have recently parodied this with their hyper-masculine adverts, claiming that their product will allow you to smell like a super masculine guy.”
The conclusions come from a study of hundreds of women and men who rated pictures and odour samples.
Dr Allen explained the results:
“Our study found that when women apply a deodorant it does increase their rated body odour femininity, as would be expected.
Though it seems as though something else is at play when it comes to male body odour and male deodorants.
Only those men who were rated low in masculinity to start with showed a significant increase after applying their deodorants, and the men who were highly masculine initially showed no increase after deodorant application.
This means that men are able to use deodorant to artificially raise their game so to speak, levelling the playing field by making themselves comparable, at least as far as odour is concerned, to more masculine men.
Our evolutionary preferences have likely shaped this difference in fragrance design: research findings show that we actually don’t like high levels of masculinity which are often associated with aggressiveness and hostility, but we show no upper limit on our femininity preferences.”
The study was published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior (Allen et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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