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Psychological effects of musky compounds: comparison of

androstadienone with androstenol and muscone.

Hormones and Behavior
Volume 42, Issue 3 , November 2002, Pages


Suma Jacob, Sheila Garcia, Davinder Hayreh and Martha K. McClintock*

Department of Psychology,

Institute for Mind and Biology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 60637

Previously, we

have shown that delta4,16-androstadien-3-one modulates psychological state, reducing negative mood and increasing

positive mood (Jacob and McClintock, 2000; Jacob et al., 2001a). In order to determine whether similar musky

compounds also produce these effects, we compared the effects of androstadienone to those of androstenol and

muscone, measuring the psychological states of 37 participants. Androstenol and muscone were chosen because they too

have a musky odor at high concentrations, while androstenol is a steroid like androstadienone and muscone is not. In

a controlled laboratory setting, we conducted a double-blind, within-subject, repeated-measures experiment

counterbalanced for order of presentation. Under each participant's nose, a nanomolar amount of each compound was

presented, masked by clove oil to minimize perceptible olfactory differences. Participants completed a baseline

psychological battery and twice again at 25-min intervals after exposure. Androstadienone's effects on

psychological state were unique in comparison with those of androstenol and with muscone. Exposure through passive

inhalation, rather than dermal contact, was sufficient for these effects. Although this is additional evidence that

androstadienone may be a pheromone, it is yet to be determined whether humans exude concentrations into the air

adequate for social communication or process this chemical information within natural social contexts.


Keywords: chemosignals; pheromone; odor; mood; musky compounds; steroids

*To whom correspondence and reprint

requests should be addressed at Department of Psychology, The University of Chicago, 5730 S. Woodlawn Avenue,

Chicago, IL 60637. Fax: 773-702-0320. E-mail: mkml@uchicago.edu.


Clinical Trial
Randomized Controlled Trial

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