Testosterone level changes after perceiving the body odour of a possible rival in human males: the role of facial symmetry

Behaviour
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An individual’s body odour is a characteristic that is used to obtain information about conspecifics. However, to our knowledge the role of body odour and the degree of facial symmetry on testosterone changes among men as indicators of possible rivals has not been investigated yet. A group of 113 men were photographed to obtain their degree of facial symmetry, i.e., the small random deviations in facial bilateral traits. They smelled and assessed the odour of men with different grades of facial symmetry, and donated two saliva samples (pre- and post-stimulus sample) to measure the change in their testosterone levels. We found that testosterone levels decreased in symmetrical men who perceived the odour of asymmetrical men. Our results suggest that men could perceive characteristics in other men that are highly valued by women through odour to identify possible rivals, and that the observed decrease in testosterone levels could be related to an inhibition of competitive behaviours.

Testosterone level changes after perceiving the body odour of a possible rival in human males: the role of facial symmetry

Behaviour

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    Differences in ratings of (a) intensity, (b) pleasant, and (c) attractive odour stimuli (N=113).

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    Men’s mean ± SE of testosterone of symmetrical men before and after 15 min of perceiving the odour of symmetrical men, asymmetrical men, and control condition (∗∗∗p<0.001 vs. post-stimulus).

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