Scent of a woman: Men's testosterone responses to olfactory ovulation cues

Saul L. Miller, Jon K. Maner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Adaptationist models of human mating provide a useful framework for identifying subtle, biologically based mechanisms influencing cross-gender social interaction. In line with this framework, the current studies examined the extent to which olfactory cues to female ovulation-scents of women at the peak of their reproductive fertility-influence endocrinological responses in men. Men in the current studies smelled T-shirts worn by women near ovulation or far from ovulation (Studies 1 and 2) or control T-shirts not worn by anyone (Study 2). Men exposed to the scent of an ovulating woman subsequently displayed higher levels of testosterone than did men exposed to the scent of a nonovulating woman or a control scent. Hence, olfactory cues signaling women's levels of reproductive fertility were associated with specific endocrinological responses in men-responses that have been linked to sexual behavior and the initiation of romantic courtship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-283
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010


  • Evolution
  • Fertility
  • Hormones
  • Human mating
  • Olfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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