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SFSU study shows pheromones act as sexual magnet

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March 20, 2002

A study by Norma McCoy, professor of psychology, and Lisa Pitino, a graduate student in psychology, shows that women's perfume laced with synthetic pheromones increases the sexual attractiveness of women to men.

Pheromones are odorless chemical substances secreted externally to cause a change in the reproductive behavior of another person and can directly stimulate a man's sexual behavior by affecting his olfactory sensors which in turn signal the brain.

For the study, McCoy and Pitino recruited 36 heterosexual women, ages 19 to 48, who were neither married nor co-habitating with a man. The women came from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Of those women who wore their regular perfume with the pheromone, 74 percent saw a rise in sociosexual behaviors: frequency of kissing, heavy petting and affection, sexual intercourse, sleeping next to their partner, and formal dates. In contrast, only 23 percent of those who were given the placebo experienced an increase.

The study, which was published in the most recent issue of the quarterly journal Physiology and Behavior, is the first to independently test a sex attractant pheromone for women.

For more, see the press release.

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Last modified March 20, 2002, by the Office of Public Affairs