Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 19–31

A cross-cultural study on the attitude towards personal odors

  • Margret Schleidt
  • Barbara Hold
  • Grazia Attili
Article

DOI: 10.1007/BF00988632

Cite this article as:
Schleidt, M., Hold, B. & Attili, G. J Chem Ecol (1981) 7: 19. doi:10.1007/BF00988632

Abstract

Human axillary odor was used in testing the ability of male and female subjects to distinguish between gender and individuals. The subjects also gave a qualitative evaluation of the odors. The tests were carried out in Japan, Italy, and Germany. Of all three cultures, 80% of the participants could significantly distinguish among the odor of individuals; 50% could identify the person correctly to whom the recognized odor belonged. Discrimination between male and female odor was significantly shown by 20% of Italian, 30% of German, and 60% of Japanese subjects. The qualitative evaluation of male and female odor was the same in the three cultures: male odor was classified more unpleasant and less pleasant than female odor. Men classified their own odor more unpleasant than women did with their own. A cultural difference was found concerning partner's odor: though men classified it alike (predominantly pleasant), women differed. Japanese and Italian women classified their partner's odor predominantly unpleasant, German women predominantly pleasant. In general the Japanese subjects classified the odors less often pleasant than the Italian and German subjects did.

Key words

Axillary odor nonverbal communication human body odor 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margret Schleidt
    • 1
  • Barbara Hold
    • 1
  • Grazia Attili
    • 2
  1. 1.Forschungsstelle für HumanethologieMax-Planck-Institut für VerhaltensphysiologieSeewiesenFed. Rep. Germany
  2. 2.Istituto di PsicologiaCNRRomeItaly

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