Being human gets dirty and body odor is a natural part of the beautiful mess that is Homo sapiens, but new research has found that a person’s affinity for getting a whiff of their fellow human may say a lot about their sexual desire. Looking at participants across different cultures, the research found that body odor sniffing was consistently associated with stronger sexual desire.
Olfaction, as our sniffing sense is known, contributes to our enjoyment of life, from the smell of a delicious dinner to the aroma of our favorite people (interestingly, you're actually more likely to be friends with people who smell like you). It figures, then, that olfactory sensations would contribute to sexual desire and behavior, but the exact extent to which these factors interlink hadn’t yet been studied.
The Body Odor Sniffing Questionnaire, Importance Of Olfaction Questionnaire, and Sexual Desire Inventory aimed to tackle this, surveying people in a cross-cultural study that has been published in the Archives Of Sexual Behavior. It recruited participants from across the globe including China, India and the USA to get an idea of the significance of olfaction to a person, how often they sniffed themselves or others, and their level of sexual desire.
The results showed that people who were led by their nose were also more likely to sniff body odors and showed stronger sexual desire compared to people who weren’t partial to smelling their peers or pits.
Some intriguing insights into the role of olfaction in sexuality, then, but was it consistent across cultures? According to the researchers, yes.
“We further explored these associations in different cultures to determine whether cultural consistency existed,” they wrote. “We conducted a second study to make cross-cultural comparisons between Indian (N = 313) and US (N = 249) populations. For both countries, a higher importance placed on olfaction and a higher prevalence of body odor sniffing were consistently associated with stronger sexual desire.”
While the findings rely on self-reporting, they raise interesting questions about the role of our sense of smell in sexual function. In a world still reeling from a disease that wiped out the olfactory sense of many people it infected, it seems looking after our noses could be important for all of us, not just sommeliers.
“In conclusion, our study confirmed that people who placed more value on olfactory function or engaged more in body odor sniffing showed stronger sexual desire,” said the authors. “These correlations were consistent for both sexes and across different cultures, further indicating the importance of olfaction in sexuality.”
[H/T: Science Alert]