Chemosensory Perception

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 154–160 | Cite as

Male Sexual Orientation Affects Sensitivity to Androstenone

  • Katrin Lübke
  • Sylvia Schablitzky
  • Bettina M. Pause


Androstenone has often been discussed as a human social chemosignal, as it is one of the major contributing substances to the human body odor for which humans possess specific receptors. Here, we investigated whether male sexual orientation influences the perception of androstenone. Sensitivity to androstenone, subjective ratings of intensity, pleasantness, unpleasantness, and familiarity of the odor, as well as self-reported emotional responses (valence, arousal, dominance) to the odor were assessed in 13 homosexual and 14 heterosexual men. Isovaleric acid served as a control substance. Homosexual men displayed significantly higher olfactory sensitivity to the odor of androstenone than heterosexual men (p < 0.05), but they did not differ from heterosexual men in their sensitivity to isovaleric acid (p > 0.25). Moreover, both groups did not differ in their judgments of or in their emotional response to androstenone or isovaleric acid. The current results indicate that men's sexual orientation significantly impacts the perception of androstenone but that this effect does not necessarily extend to subjective judgments.


Androstenone Body Odor Chemosensory Communication Olfactory Sensitivity Olfactory Threshold Sexual Orientation 



We thank R. Cole for her contribution to data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katrin Lübke
    • 1
  • Sylvia Schablitzky
    • 1
  • Bettina M. Pause
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of DuesseldorfDuesseldorfGermany

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