Back in 2005, a Czech scientific team led by Jan Havlicek of Charles University in Prague got 48 men to complete questionnaires that measured their social dominance. The men were also asked to collect their underarm sweat by wearing cotton pads.
A group of 65 women then sniffed the pads.
Havlicek and his colleagues reported that women who were ovulating — and thus at their most fertile — and were in stable relationships rated sweat from the men with high scores for dominance highest. Other women did not show this preference.
The researchers suggested that while women are likely to pair up with men they believe will be good fathers they might be hardwired to stray with men with good genes.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International
And boy, did this study ever do the rounds of the internet. It was like all those supressed jocko homo types with websites called things like Men Confirming What They Already Believe Dot Com latched on to it as hard as they could. “We always knew those married girls we drool over were secretly attracted to us! This arbitrary survey of 65 women proves it conclusively!”
OK, sure. I’m left wondering about a couple of things. First off, how on earth do you measure social dominance in a questionairre? You are always going to get some geeky types who are not really dominant at all but are smart and vain enough to answer the survey as though they were.
Second, why was the women’s study question so different? You see, the team did study women’s armpits and give the pads to men to smell. (I wonder if they had to pay them – and by the way, this part of the study is reported way less often on the internet). They only studied 12 women and then gave their armpit pads to 42 men. Apart from the fact that the sample numbers were less, what puzzles me is that the question they asked was so obvious, and so different.
Is women’s armpit odor more attractive to men when they are ovulating? Why, yes it is. How surprising.
But if the study was about dominance in men, why was it about fertility in women?
Unless of course, the women’s fertilty was assumed to the the major factor in their attractiveness from the outset of the study.
For the record I do not find my wife’s baby-making potential her most attractive feature. I believe there is a serious dearth of scientific research in this area. Science must step up and answer the question: do horny, orgasm-starved men greatly prefer the armpit odour of socially dominant women?
Anecdotal evidence round my way strongly suggests that they do…