Smells Like Teen Spirit

Kevin Lewis

December 04, 2022

Sniffing of Body Odors and Individual Significance of Olfaction Are Associated with Sexual Desire: A Cross-Cultural Study in China, India, and the USA
Zi-lin Li, Thomas Hummel & Lai-quan Zou
Archives of Sexual Behavior, November 2022, Pages 3703-3713 


Olfactory sensations contribute to sexual desire and sexual behavior. However, the degree to which individual importance of olfactory function and body odors relate to sexual desire is not known. This study was conducted to preliminarily examine these relationships among Chinese college students (N = 1903) via the Importance of Olfaction Questionnaire, the Body Odor Sniffing Questionnaire, and the Sexual Desire Inventory, which were used to measure subjective significance of olfaction, frequency of sniffing self or others, and sexual desire, respectively. Individuals who assigned higher importance to olfaction or engaged more in body odor sniffing showed stronger sexual desire. We further explored these associations in different cultures to determine whether cultural consistency existed. We conducted a second study to make cross-cultural comparisons between Indian (N = 313) and US (N = 249) populations. For both countries, a higher importance placed on olfaction and a higher prevalence of body odor sniffing were consistently associated with stronger sexual desire. In conclusion, our study confirmed that people who placed more value on olfactory function or engaged more in body odor sniffing showed stronger sexual desire. These correlations were consistent for both sexes and across different cultures, further indicating the importance of olfaction in sexuality.

Lordosis in Humans
Ayten Yesim Semchenko et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming 


Despite progress in attractiveness research, we have yet to identify many fitness-relevant cues in the human phenotype or humans’ psychology for responding to them. Here, we test hypotheses about psychological systems that may have evolved to process distinct cues in the female lumbar region. The Fetal Load Hypothesis proposes a male preference for a morphological cue: lumbar curvature. The Lordosis Detection Hypothesis posits context-dependent male attraction to a movement: lordosis behavior. In two studies (Study 1 N: 102, Study 2 N: 231), we presented men with animated female characters that varied in their lumbar curvature and back arching (i.e., lordosis behavior). Irrespective of mating context, men’s attraction increased as lumbar curvature approached the hypothesized optimum. By contrast, men experienced greater attraction to lordosis behavior in short-term than long-term mating contexts. These findings support both the Lordosis Detection and Fetal Load Hypotheses. Discussion focuses on the meaning of human lordosis and the importance of dynamic stimuli in attractiveness research.

Dear old love: Effects of reflecting on nostalgic memories about ex-partners on current romantic relationship
Ting Ai, Omri Gillath & Mark Landau
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming


Research on the impact of ex-romantic partners on current romantic relationships is mainly focused on negative aspects. Here instead we focus on the potential positive influence of reflecting on nostalgic memories of one's ex-partner. In three studies, we found that reflecting on nostalgic memories of one's ex-partner increased the perception of current relationship quality (Studies 1– 3) and approach motivation towards the current relationship (Study 3), compared to a control condition. We also tested a potential underlying mechanism—perception of self-growth. We found that perception of self-growth mediated the positive effects of reflecting on nostalgic memories about an ex-partner on perceived current relationship quality (Studies 2 and 3) and approach motivation in the current relationship (Study 3). Implications for research and therapy are discussed.

Precarious manhood increases men's receptivity to social sexual behavior from attractive women at work
Sonya Mishra, Margaret Lee & Laura Kray
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming 


The precarious nature of manhood, a hard-won and easily lost social status, has been linked to negative outcomes such as aggression in men, lower well-being for men and women, and more instances of workplace harassment. We posit that precarious manhood also influences men's perceptions of social sexual behavior (SSB) directed at them by a coworker of the opposite gender, shedding light on gender asymmetries in perceptions of SSB at work. Across four experiments (N = 1656), we demonstrate that men are more receptive to SSB from attractive women when their manhood is threatened compared to when it is affirmed (Studies 1–2). This effect holds after controlling for short-term mating orientation, is limited to men's (as opposed to women's) perceptions of SSB from opposite-gender initiators (Study 2) and is also limited to men's perceptions of SSB from attractive (versus unattractive) women (Study 3). Additionally, we find that at baseline, men who receive SSB from attractive women experience greater feelings of masculinity, which are limited to perceptions of sexual (versus nonsexual) behavior from attractive women, ruling out the possibility that men are simply more flatterable than women (Study 4). Our findings suggest that men's insecurities about their manhood may leave them more vulnerable to potentially problematic workplace behaviors that cater to their sense of masculinity.

A Visualization of U.S. Couples’ Money Arrangements
Joanna Pepin
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, November 2022 


Using newly available nationally representative U.S. data from the National Couples’ Health and Time Study, this visualization presents 2020–2021 estimates of couples’ (n = 3,396) money arrangements by marital and parental status, by age group, and for different-gender and same-gender couples. It shows that cohabiting couples continue to be much less likely than married couples to pool all their money, and the gap is apparent across key demographic characteristics. Among married couples, 66 percent of different-gender couples put all their money together, compared with 45 percent of women partnered with women and 50 percent of men partnered with men. Young couples are as likely as older couples to put all money together when legally married.


from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.