Frances Thorne, Nick Neave, Andrew Scholey, Mark Moss, and Bernhard Fink (2002)

Effects of putative male pheromones on female ratings of male attractiveness: influence of oral contraceptives and the menstrual cycle

Neuroendocrinology letters, 23(4):291-297.

Previous research has revealed that natural and synthetic pheromones can
enhance ratings of opposite sex attractiveness. The present study investi-
gated the effects of exposure to male axillary secretions on female ratings
of the sexual attractiveness of male stimuli. Thirty-two female undergradu-
ates, half of whom were contraceptive pill users, rated male vignette char-
acters and photographs of male faces on aspects of attractiveness. On two
separate study days, corresponding to different phases of their menstrual
cycle, stimuli were presented while exposed to male axillary pheromones
and under a control condition (no pheromone). The order of testing was
balanced with respect to pheromone/control condition and menstrual cycle
phase. Pheromone exposure resulted in significantly higher attractiveness
ratings of vignette characters and faces. Use of the contraceptive pill or
menstrual cycle phase had equivocal effects on some vignette items and nei-
ther had any influence on female ratings of male facial attractiveness. The
results of this study suggest that exposure to natural male axillary phero-
mones can significantly enhance female perceptions of various aspects of
male attractiveness.