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New study: Women's tears contain pheromones that turn men off

Posted Feb 15 2011 12:00am
 
Female tears affect men's desire. Photo: wikimedia commons

An old friend told me once that she intentionally cries in conversations with her husband when she's not getting her way.  She might want to consider a different tactic.  New evidence suggests that a pheromone in women's tears turns men off rather decidedly.
Two researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have just published a study in the journal Science which demonstrates that the tears of human females turn men off.
Tears contain pheromones, apparently
The researchers, Shani Gelstein and Noam Sobel, have apparently shown that human female tears contain a pheromone that reduces men's sexual arousal.  A pheromone is a chemical produced by the body that communicates with others of the same species. For example, female dogs in heat have a scent that attracts males. Males of many species have a scent in their urine, or in glandular secretions, that advertises the boundaries of their territories and keeps competitors out.  Pheromones are very common among other mammals but have seldom (if ever) been identified in humans.

It's interesting that, in this experiment, the subjects could not consciously smell the pheromone. But they apparently smelled it subconsciously, because it affected their behavior.


Women's tears dampened men's sexual response
I thought the experiment was ingenious.  The researchers collected a jar of tears from women as they watched sad film clips and tears trickled down their faces. A pad containing either tears or a salt solution that had been trickled down the same faces was then attached to each male subject's upper lip.  Neither substance had a perceptible odor.  The men were then shown female faces; 17 of the 24 men found the female faces less alluring after whiffing tears than after whiffing salt solution.

Another 50 men showed less physiological sexual arousal after whiffing tears than after whiffing salt solution. Low sexual arousal was indicated by slow breathing rates and low levels of testosterone in their saliva.

In a final experiment, men watched a sad movie while sniffing women's tears or sniffing a salt solution. The men sniffing tears showed a much reduced blood flow to areas of the brain that had earlier reacted strongly to an R-rated erotic movie.

The researchers don't know what the chemical nature of the pheromone might be.  More research is need to figure that out. 


How would the pheromones in women's tears affect other women?
I never have really felt that it was to my advantage to cry in front of a man. It might catch attention, might inspire guilt or pity, but I'm not sure it's ever really worked to my advantage. I'm curious to see the experiment repeated on female subjects.  How do females respond to whiffing the tears of other females? I imagine the response would be increased blood flow to the parts of the brain involved in care-taking, nurturing, and heart-felt sympathy.

What do you think?

Keywords: Shani Gelstein, Noam Sobel, pheromones in tears, women's tears, tears reduce sexual response
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