This fall, your online dating experience may feature something new and exciting: Pheromones. These silent triggers of subconscious arousal, attraction, and desire are the latest addition to dating profiles, sure to spark some interesting conversation, if not an intense match-up.
A new company called basisnote is offering to provide this service to the online community. Based on actual research, the process is currently being honed and marketed to Internet dating platforms.
Oh, those wacky scientists…
Through a simple saliva test which can be done at home, a code is developed. That code represents your particular scent profile and can be easily inserted into your online information, right alongside your photo, hobbies and turn-ons.
Research conducted with both human and animal subjects has shown that scent affects our selection of partners, even if only on a subconscious level. We are not talking here about the cologne or perfume you wear, the combinations of soap, hair products, and laundry detergent. This is the smell of your body itself, your skin and secretions. You may wear all the deodorant you like, but your personal aroma will still come through in your body fluids, on your skin.
The yuck factor is eliminated
Thankfully (for most of us) there is no need to actually smell a stranger. Your potential partners will have their own version of the code. The information strings of your individual scent profiles will be compared and a match declared or denied.
Of course, any substitute for the subtle evolutionary design of the human nose will lack its power of sensitivity and discernment. There may be as-yet undetected pheromones or other factors at work which will not be screened by the system developed by the company performing the match.
Taken for what it is, it can serve as one more piece of information at your disposal to aid in making choices. If it helps, use it. If not, it can be easily disregarded.
Why this matters
We are programmed to find the scent of a mate more attractive if their immune makeup is strongly different from our own. This helps, through variation, to ensure any children born will have a better prepared immune system. This is an ancient system, rooted in our biological imperative to expand the pool of genetic information in our species and breeding populations.
Invisible forces influencing our minds?!
Pheromones have been shown (through brain scans) to affect the human brain as well as our behavior. For example, Cortisol may make you seem more attractive to a potential mate. Some companies have tried to create over the counter versions of effective pheromone products to enhance what nature has given us. A few of the ingredients considered most effective include:
Androstenol makes us more approachable, improves friendliness, attractiveness, and empathy, and helps us appear more healthy, as if we possess greater reproductive fitness. Androsterone increases the perception of masculinity, without the aggression factor. It inspires a sense of trust, safety, and protection. Androstenone helps to project masculine, aggressive characteristics, triggers sexual arousal in women and intimidation in rivals. All three have effects on both sexes.
Women experiencing the fertile period of their monthly cycle are more likely to find men attractive in general. Ladies, beware the light buzz of your hormones and the beer goggle effect they may have upon you. Men, if you want to improve your chances and you can suss out the cycle, hone in.
All of this definitely leads to some questions. Are you cheating yourself if you do not take full advantage of all that nature affords? When should you sample your scent in order to get the best possible number of respondents?
The scent of the female body is most attractive to males when sampled during the most fertile part of her cycle- around ovulation (as opposed to the luteal phase). Studies have also shown that photos of women in the most fertile phases of their menstrual cycle are judged by both sexes to be more attractive. So you may want to change that photo on your profile.
Sadly, in this case, the science is lagging behind for males. It is increasingly suspected that male bodies work on a cycle of their own, but there is little data on how that may affect their pheromone composition.
So what if…
All of this leads to the idea of doping or enhancing your sample. If you doctor your own sample, are you cheating yourself or getting a step ahead? One could argue that, just as you want the best possible photo, you want to put your best scent forward. You could conceivably improve your chances over the competition. Initially, simply getting the attention of a potential mate may be enough. Then your personality can work its magic. As for any lingering issues, no one would have to know. Even if they did find out, there is not a great controversy over such issues. Yet.
However, if you believe in the science behind such advancements (or in the idea of being straightforward and honest in relationships), it would probably be best to stick with your own unadulterated sample. Ultimately, by forging your scent, you would likely be cheating yourself, maybe out of a perfect match. At the very least, you will never have to wonder if it was your own scent or the enhancement that drew him/her to you.
Odor Matching: The Scent Of Internet Dating
Adapted from materials provided by ETH Zurich
basisnote launches your scent into the Internet
The Royal Society School of Biology
Roberts, Havlicek, Flegr, Hruskova, Little, Jones, Perrett, Petrie
Female facial attractiveness increases during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle
Pheromone Information Library
Sex Pheromones and Sexual Attraction
Photo by denisparis http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=374578