Posted in Miscellany

*Armpit Psychology

Scientific American reports on several experiments to determine preferences (and eww grosses) of body odour.

My favourite is the study of vegetarian vs meat-eating men conducted by Charles University of Prague anthropologists Jan Havlicek and Pavlina Lenochova. Ranging in age from nineteen to thirty-one, the 17 male students in the study were put on different diets for two weeks, one exclusively vegetarian, the other increasingly red meat based. Great care was taken to exclude other factors.

To rule out other possible factors, Havlicek and Lenochova forbade the participants from sleeping in the same bed as their partner, engaging in rigorous exercise, using perfume, deodorants, antiperspirants, aftershave and shower gels, eating garlic, onions, chili, pepper, vinegar, blue cheese, cabbage, radish, fermented milk products and marinated fish, consuming alcohol or other drugs—and even from having sex (those who confessed to such venal sins were excluded from the final data analyses). After two weeks on either the “meat” or “non-meat” diet, participants then switched to the other diet for the following two weeks, so that each man’s body odor was assessed on both diets.

At the end of each two week period, the men wore a cotton pad taped to their armpits for the day. Afterward 30 female students from the same university smelled the pads and rated the smells. The results:

We now know that, even independent of where women are on their menstrual cycles, the “odor signatures” of men on a non-meat diet are perceived by fertile women to be less intense, more pleasant and more attractive than their meat-eating peers.

Chalk up another reason to go veggie.

For the full article and the other experiments, click here.



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

5 thoughts on “*Armpit Psychology

  1. Rachel, so am I.

    Di–that made me laugh. I’ll just count my blessings with my h’s vegetarian habit.

    Our first time out for dinner, we went out for Chinese food. We ordered a meat dish bec I assumed he would eat it and he assumed I would eat it. Only at the end of the meal, when everything was eaten except for the meat dish, we both confessed to being vegetarians.

  2. This article was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last week.
    I have been coming to this blog for a couple of days now and i’m very impressed with the content!

    thanks & regards
    avid – online university

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