Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Political attitudes vary with detection of androstenone

  • Amanda Friesen (a1), Mike Gruszczynski (a2), Kevin B. Smith (a3) and John R. Alford (a4)

Abstract

Building on a growing body of research suggesting that political attitudes are part of broader individual and biological orientations, we test whether the detection of the hormone androstenone is predictive of political attitudes. The particular social chemical analyzed in this study is androstenone, a nonandrogenic steroid found in the sweat and saliva of many mammals, including humans. A primary reason for scholarly interest in odor detection is that it varies so dramatically from person to person. Using participants’ self-reported perceptions of androstenone intensity, together with a battery of survey items testing social and political preferences and orientations, this research supports the idea that perceptions of androstenone intensity relate to political orientations—most notably, preferences for social order—lending further support to theories positing the influence of underlying biological traits on sociopolitical attitudes and behaviors.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Mike Gruszczynski, The Media School at Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana. Email: mgruszc@iu.edu.

References

Hide All
Aarøe, L., Petersen, M. B., & Arceneaux, K. (2017). The behavioral immune system shapes political intuitions: Why and how individual differences in disgust sensitivity underlie opposition to immigration. American Political Science Review, 111(2), 277294. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055416000770
Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Nevitt, S. R. (1950). The authoritarian personality. W. W. Norton & Co.
Altemeyer, R. (1996). The authoritarian specter. Harvard University Press.
Balzer, A., & Jacobs, C. M. (2011). Gender and physiological effects in connecting disgust to political preferences. Social Science Quarterly, 92(5), 12971313. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6237.2011.00819.x
Bittner, A., & Goodyear-Grant, E. (2017). Sex isn’t gender: Reforming concepts and measurements in the study of public opinionPolitical Behavior39(4), 10191041. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-017-9391-y
Booth, A., Granger, D. A., Mazur, A., & Kivlighan, K. T. (2006). Testosterone and social behaviorSocial Forces85(1), 167191. https://doi.org/10.1353/sof.2006.0116
Bremner, E. A. (2003). The prevalence of androstenone anosmiaChemical Senses28(5), 423432. https://doi.org/10.1093/chemse/28.5.423
Castiello, U. (2006). Cross-modal interactions between olfaction and vision when grasping. Chemical Senses, 31(7), 665671. https://doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bjl007
Cowley, J. J., Johnson, A. L., & Brooksbank, B. W. L. (1997). The effect of two odorous compounds on performance in an assessment-of-people test. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2(2), 159172. https://doi.org/10.1016/0306-4530(77)90021-X
Damasio, A. R., & Damasio, H. (1994). Cortical systems for retrieval of concrete knowledge: The convergence zone framework. In Koch, C. and Davis, J. L. (Eds.), Large-scale neuronal theories of the brain (pp. 6174). MIT Press.
Feldman, S., & Stenner, K. (1997). Perceived threat and authoritarianismPolitical Psychology18(4), 741770. https://doi.org/10.1677/joe.0.1370167
Filsinger, E. E., Braun, J. J., Monte, W. C., & Linder, D. E. (1984). Human (Homo sapiens) responses to the pig (Sus scrofa) sex pheromone 5 alpha-androst-16-en-3-one. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 98(2), 219222. https://doi.org/10.1037/0735-7036.98.2.219
Fiore, A. M., Yah, X., & Yoh, E. (2000). Effects of a product display and environmental fragrancing on approach responses and pleasurable experiences. Psychology & Marketing, 17(1), 2754. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1520-6793(200001)17:1<27::AID-MAR3>3.0.CO;2-C
Friesen, A., & Ksiazkiewicz, A. (2015). Do political attitudes and religiosity share a genetic path? Political Behavior37(4), 791818. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-014-9291-3
Friesen, A., Smith, K. B., & Hibbing, J. R. (2017). Physiological arousal and self-reported valence for erotica images correlate with sexual policy preferencesInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research, 29(3), 449470. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edw008
Gloor, P., & Gubeman, A. H. (1997). The temporal lobe and limbic system. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 157(11), 15971598.
Gonzalez, F. J., Smith, K. B., & Hibbing, J. R. (2015). No longer “beyond our scope”: The biological and non-conscious underpinnings of public opinion. In Berinsky, A. J. (Ed.), New directions in public opinion (2nd ed., pp. 186204). Routledge.
Gower, D. B., & Ruparelia, B. A. (1993). Olfaction in humans with special reference to odorous 16-androstenes: Their occurrence, perception and possible social, psychological and sexual impact. Journal of Endocrinology, 137(2), 167187. https://doi.org/10.1677/joe.0.1370167
Graham, J., Haidt, J., & Nosek, B. A. (2009). Liberals and conservatives rely on different sets of moral foundations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(5), 10291046. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015141
Gustavson, A. R., Dawson, M. E., & Bonett, D. G. (1987). Androstenol, a putative human pheromone, affects human (Homo sapiens) male choice performance. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 101(2) 210212. https://doi.org/10.1037/0735-7036.101.2.210
Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2007). When morality opposes justice: Conservatives have moral intuitions that liberals may not recognize. Social Justice Research, 20(1), 98116. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-007-0034-z
Hatemi, P., & McDermott, R. (2012). Policing the perimeter: Disgust and purity in democratic debate. PS: Political Science & Politics, 45(4), 675687. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1049096512000686
Havlicek, J., Murray, A. K., Saxton, T. K., & Roberts, S. C. (2010). Current issues in the study of androstenes in human chemosignaling. Vitamins & Hormones, 83, 4781. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0083-6729(10)83003-1
Herz, R. S. (2014). Verbal priming and taste sensitivity make moral transgressions gross. Behavioral Neuroscience, 128(1), 2028. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035468
Hetherington, M. J., & Weiler, J. D. (2009). Authoritarianism and polarization in American politics. Cambridge University Press.
Hibbing, J. R., Smith, K. B., & Alford, J. R. (2013). Predisposed: Liberals, conservatives, and the biology of political differences. Routledge.
Hummer, T. A., & McClintock, M. K. (2009). Putative human pheromone androstadienone attunes the mind specifically to emotional information. Hormones and Behavior, 55(4), 548559. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2009.01.002
Inbar, Y., Pizarro, D. A., & Bloom, P. (2009) Conservatives are more easily disgusted than liberals. Cognition & Emotion, 23(4), 714725. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699930802110007
Insel, T. R., & Young, L. J. (2001). The neurobiology of attachment. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2(2), 129136. https://doi.org/10.1038/35053579
Jacob, S., Garcia, S., Hayreh, D., & McClintock, M. K. (2002). Psychological effects of musky compounds: Comparison of androstadienone with androstenol and muscone. Hormones and Behavior, 42(3), 274283. https://doi.org/10.1006/hbeh.2002.1826
Jacob, T. J., Wang, L., Jaffer, S., & McPhee, S. (2005). Changes in the odor quality of androstadienone during exposure-induced sensitizationChemical Senses31(1), 38. https://doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bji073
Keller, A. (2011). Genes and smells. The Biochemist, 33(6), 1013.
Keller, A., Zhuang, H., Chi, Q., Vosshall, L. B., & Matsunami, H. (2007). Genetic variation in a human odorant receptor alters odour perception. Nature, 449(7161), 468472. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature06162
Kirk-Smith, M. D., Booth, D. A., & Van Der Starre, H. (1980). Effects of androstenone on choice of location in others’ presence. In Olfaction and Taste VII: Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste and of the Fourth Congress of the European Chemoreception Research Organization (pp. 397400). London: IRL Press.
Kline, J. P., Schwartz, G. E., & Dikman, Z. V. (2007). Interpersonal defensiveness and diminished perceptual acuity for the odor of a putative pheromone: Androstenone. Biological Psychology, 74(3), 405413. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2006.10.003
Knaapila, A., Tuorila, H., Silventoinen, K., Wright, M. J., Kyvik, K. O., Cherkas, L. F., Keskitalo, K., Hansen, J., Martin, N. G., Spector, T. D., Kaprio, J., & Perola, M. (2008). Genetic and environmental contributions to perceived intensity and pleasantness of androstenone odor: An international twin study. Chemosensory Perception, 1(1), 3442. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12078-007-9005-x
Kosfeld, M., Heinrichs, M., Zak, P. J., Fischbacher, U., & Fehr, E. (2005). Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature, 435(7042), 673676. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03701
Lodge, M., & Taber, C. S. (2005). The automaticity of affect for political leaders, groups, and issues: An experimental test of the hot cognition hypothesis. Political Psychology, 26(3), 455482. https://doi.org/10.2307/3792606
Lundström, J. N., & Olsson, M. J. (2005). Subthreshold amounts of social odorant affect mood, but not behavior, in heterosexual women when tested by a male, but not a female, experimenter. Biological Psychology, 70(3), 197204.
Lundström, J. N., Olsson, M. J., Schaal, B., & Hummel, T. (2006). A putative social chemosignal elicits faster cortical responses than perceptually similar odorants. NeuroImage, 30(4), 13401346. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.10.040
McDermott, R., Johnson, D., Cowden, J., & Rosen, S. (2007). Testosterone and aggression in a simulated crisis gameAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science614, 1533.
McDermott, R., Tingley, D., & Hatemi, P.K. (2014). Assortative mating on ideology could operate through olfactory cues. American Journal of Political Science, 58(4), 9971005. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12133
Menashe, I., Man, O., Lancet, D., & Gilad, Y. (2003). Different noses for different people. Nature Genetics, 34(2), 143144.
Mombaerts, P. (1999). Molecular biology of odorant receptors in vertebrates. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 22, 487509. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.neuro.22.1.487
Morrin, M., & Ratneshwar, S. (2000). The impact of ambient scent on evaluation, attention, and memory for familiar and unfamiliar brands . Journal of Business Research, 49(2), 157165. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0148-2963(99)00006-5
Neuberg, S. L., Kenrick, D. T., & Schaller, M. (2011). Human threat management systems: Self-protection and disease avoidance. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 35(4), 10421051. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.08.011
Neville, K. R., & Haberly, L. B. (2003). Olfactory cortex. In Shepherd, G. M. (Ed.), The synaptic organization of the brain (5th ed., pp. 415454). Oxford University Press.
Oxley, D. R., Smith, K. B., Alford, J. R., Hibbing, M. V., Miller, J. L., Scalora, M., . . . Hibbing, J. R. (2008). Political attitudes vary with physiological traits. Science, 321, 16671670.
Pause, B. M. (2004). Are androgen steroids acting as pheromones in humans? Physiology & Behavior, 83(1), 2129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2004.07.019
Pause, B. M., Ferstl, R., & Fehm-Wolfsdorf, G. (1998). Personality and olfactory sensitivity. Journal of Research in Personality, 32(4), 510518. https://doi.org/10.1006/jrpe.1998.2228
Saxton, T., Lyndon, A., Little, A., & Roberts, S. (2008). Evidence that androstadienone, a putative human chemosignal, modulates women’s attributions of men’s attractiveness. Hormones and Behavior, 54(5), 597601. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2008.06.001
Schaal, B., & Porter, R. H. (1991). “Microsmatic Humans” Revisited: The Generation and Perception of Chemical Signals. In P. J. B. Slater, J. S. Rosenblatt, C. Beer, & M. Milinski (Eds.), Advances in the Study of Behavior (Vol. 20, pp. 135199). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0065-3454(08)60321-6
Sherwood, L. (2010). Human physiology: From cells to systems (7th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Smith, K. B., Oxley, D. R, Hibbing, M. V., Alford, J. R., & Hibbing, J. R. (2011a). Disgust sensitivity and the neurophysiology of left-right political orientations. PLOS ONE, 6(10), e25552. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0025552
Smith, K. B., Oxley, D. R., Hibbing, M. V., Alford, J. R., & Hibbing, J. R. (2011b). Linking genetics and political attitudes: Reconceptualizing political ideologyPolitical Psychology32(3), 369397. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9221.2010.00821.x
Stenner, K. (2005). The authoritarian dynamic. Cambridge University Press.
Stockhorst, U., & Pietrowsky, R. (2004). Olfactory perception, communication, and the nose-to-brain pathway. Physiology & Behavior, 83(1), 311.
Tobin, V. A., Hashimoto, H., Wacker, D. W., Tankayanagi, Y., Langnaese, K., Caquineau, C., Noack, J.Landgraf, R.Onaka, T.Leng, G.Meddle, S. L.Engelmann, M., & Ludwig, M. (2010). An intrinsic vasopressin system in the olfactory bulb is involved in social recognition. Nature, 464(7287), 413417. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature08826
Tybur, J. M., Lieberman, D., & Griskevicius, V. (2009). Microbes, mating, and morality: Individual differences in three functional domains of disgust. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(1), 103122. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015474
Tybur, J. M., Merriman, L. A., Hooper, A. E. C., McDonald, M. M., & Navarrete, C. D. (2010). Extending the behavioral immune system to political psychology: Are political conservatism and disgust sensitivity really related? Evolutionary Psychology, 8(4), 147470491000800. https://doi.org/10.1177/147470491000800406
Vigil, J. (2008). Facial expression processing varies with political affiliation. http://precedings.nature.com/documents/2414/version/1.
Vigil, J. M. (2010). Political leanings vary with facial expression processing and psychosocial functioning. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 13(5), 547558. https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430209356930
Wagner, M. W., Deppe, K. D., Jacobs, C. M., Friesen, A., Smith, K. B., & Hibbing, J. R. (2015). Beyond survey self-reports: Using physiology to tap political orientationsInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research27(3), 303317. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edu036
Wang, L., Chen, L., & Jacob, T. (2004) Evidence for peripheral plasticity in human odour response. Journal of Physiology, 554(1), 236244. https://doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2003.054726
Wilson, G. D., & Patterson, J. R. (1968). A new measure of conservatismBritish Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology7(4), 264269. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8260.1968.tb00568.x
Woodward, J., & Allman, J. (2007). Moral intuition: Its neural substrates and normative significance. Journal of Physiology-Paris, 101(4), 179202. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jphysparis.2007.12.003
Wysocki, C. J., & Beauchamp, G. K. (1984) Ability to smell androstenone is genetically determined. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 81(15), 48994902. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.81.15.4899
Zhou, W., & Chen, D. (2009). Sociochemosensory and emotional functions: Behavioral evidence for shared mechanisms. Psychological Science, 20(9), 11181124. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02413.x

Keywords

Political attitudes vary with detection of androstenone

  • Amanda Friesen (a1), Mike Gruszczynski (a2), Kevin B. Smith (a3) and John R. Alford (a4)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed