Man musk turns out to do more than wrinkle noses at the gym. It can act to control other men, according to new research. Men who get a whiff of other men’s sweat become more cooperative and generous, ScienceNOW reports.
In humans, pheromones originate in special glands near the armpit, and past research has linked them to mood and reproductive cycles. But until now, researchers mostly focused on human pheromones in terms of sexual attraction rather than male-to-male interactions.
In this new experiment, researchers partnered 40 20-something men to play rounds of a computer game that focuses on splitting and sharing money.
One player offers a possible split, and the other decides whether to accept or reject it. Each participant took a turn making or deciding on offers.
Then they took a hefty whiff of either yeast (a control) or androstadienone, a suspected male pheromone present in sweat (which was also mixed with yeast to mask any perceptible odor), and played the game again.
The pheromone-sniffing men offered half a euro more, on average, and also accepted offers about a euro lower than their yeast-sniffing counterparts. The higher the testosterone levels of the player, the greater his generosity after sniffing the pheromone, the researchers found.
The researchers used high concentrations of androstadienone in their experiment, however, so men asking for a raise or promotion probably won’t find much help by waving their armpit in their boss’ face.
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