The fragrance Hedion has been shown to influence our behavior
The effects of so-called pheromones on human behavior have often been discussed in the past. Mostly the possible effects on the choice of partner were in the foreground, but also possible influencing of purchase decisions by special fragrances was definitely an issue. In fact, the use of fragrances is already a widespread practice in retail today. The extent to which interpersonal communication takes place via the pheromones remains controversial.
A new “interdisciplinary study by olfactory and behavioral researchers from the universities of Bern, Cologne and Bochum could give new impetus to research,” according to the Cologne University. The study suggests that the flowery fragrance Hedion affects human behavior. According to the researchers, the fragrance reinforces so-called reciprocal behaviors, in which we tend to react to the behavior of our counterpart with similar behavior. (friendly address, friendly answer). The researchers published their results in the specialist journal "Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience".
Hedion activates a specific brain region
According to the researchers, Hedion has significantly strengthened reciprocal behavior in the behavioral-economic laboratory studies according to the motto "Like you, so I you". These results are also important because Hedion was previously identified as the first fragrance that excites a human pheromone receptor (VN1R1), the experts explain. The fragrance triggers the activation of a brain region, which is also involved in hormone control. The effect is even ten times stronger for women than for men. In the current study, the research team led by economist Professor Dr. Sebastian Berger, today at the University of Bern, Professor Dr. Axel Ockenfels from the University of Cologne and the cell physiologist Professor Dr. Dr. Hanns Hatt from the Ruhr University in Bochum is now investigating the effects of the fragrance on human behavior.
Reciprocal behaviors reinforced
According to the researchers, people under the influence of the fragrance Hedion reacted to the trust of other people with increased trustworthiness in the experiments. If the other trial participants did not cooperate, the test subjects under Hedion influence tended to punish them for this. "Our test subjects reacted somewhat friendlier to friendliness and somewhat unfriendly to unfair behavior," emphasizes Prof. Berger. These so-called reciprocal behaviors form an elementary prerequisite for human cooperation.
Effects on interpersonal cooperation
"Reciprocal behaviors are of central importance for human interaction because they enable cooperation," adds Prof. Ockenfels. According to the expert, they are at the center of many behavioral models in evolutionary biology and other disciplines that deal with the development of cooperation. This suggests that there is a connection between interpersonal cooperation with the fragrance Hedion. "The results could be an indication that there could also be a pheromone effect in humans that differs from classic smelling," emphasizes Porf. Did.
Cooperation between olfactory and behavioral researchers
The experiments were carried out under the influence of Hedion and in situations in which there was no scent or other floral control scent in the room. According to the researchers, the concentrations of the fragrances were so low that the test subjects did not consciously perceive the fragrances during the test. The study concluded that the study was a first step towards a promising collaboration between olfactory and behavioral researchers. Now it is important to examine the resilience of the results in other behavioral contexts and to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms.
Looking for natural fragrances with a hedion effect
According to the researchers, future studies should also look for natural odor molecules in body secretions that are similar to hedion and act on the same receptor. For the detection of human pheromone communication, a man-made fragrance is first necessary, which triggers a specific, reproducible reaction in another person. In further interdisciplinary studies, the scientists hope that the meaning of pheromones will be scientifically well-founded. (fp)