In Focus:

Sexual Satisfaction Tied to Smell

You may remember the experiment in 1995 in which female (presumably heterosexual)college students were asked to rate the “pleasantness” of the smell of several unwashed T-shirts that had been worn for two nights by several different male students. It showed that the more different the woman and man were in their genes (in particuar, the ones that cause immune responses), the more “pleasant” she rated his T-shirt.

In other words, the less they both had genes that serve the protective function of causing immune responses, the more likely the woman would be sexually attracted to him. On average, heterosexual couples share only about 20% of their immune system genes. So, when it comes to immune system genes, opposites do attract.

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