Posted by Sky Mouse on January 19, 2000 at 08:00
In Reply to: Pheromones: are they involved? posted by wetwednesday on January 18, 2000 at 08:35
Pheromones are chemicals that some animals secrete, and to which animals of the same species are highly sensitive and respond in specific ways. For example, some animals use pheremones to attract a mate and to repel members of the same sex.
From what I understand, researchers have tried to identify an analogue in humans, but have so far been unable to demonstrate any effects of this kind. There have been some high profile, very informal tests publicised by manufacturers of perfumes that were claimed to contain 'human pheremones'. Some years ago, for example, there was one perfume manufacturer who claimed that their product had been sprayed on one chair in a dentist's waiting room, and that more women later sat on that chair. This is tremendous fun and great advertising rhetoric, and probably no more harmful to science than any other manufacturer who claims their product gives people 'sex-appeal'.
Note that claims for an effective pheremone are different from those of an aphrodisiac. A human pheremone supposedly works subliminally; that is to say, its effects can't be simply attributed to the subject consciously enjoying a smell. I would not be surprised to learn that traces of pee have an effect on some people - as a pee-fetishist, it has that effect on me (as has White Musk perfume and a variety of other smells that have a positve personal association for me).