Smell, hormones, and bonding

Tobin, Hashimoto et al., (2010) states with unusual clarity: “We are not suggesting that social recognition in humans depends on olfactory signals… and in humans olfactory recognition probably has only a small role.”

If no one with olfactory deficits ever had a problem either with bonding or with social recognition, this might be true. However, the well-detailed link between olfactory/pheromonal stimuli from the social environment and its ability to condition hormone responses associated with behavior, suggests that the neurophysiological mechanism that links the sense of smell and vasopressin is very similar across species of mammals. Therefore, we might do well to reconsider reports associating oxytocin and vasopressin with bonding, monogamy, polygamy et al., and get our sense of smell tested, even if the testing personnel seem to treat us like animals.

Author: jim