Can you smell human and/or non-human pheromones?

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Can you smell human and/or non-human pheromones?
Only sex pheromones in humans 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Only sex pheromones in some/most mammals 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
All sorts of pheromones in humans, but no idea what they mean 18%  18%  [ 2 ]
All sorts of pheromones in mammals, but no idea what they mean 18%  18%  [ 2 ]
All sorts of pheromones in humans, and I know their meaning 9%  9%  [ 1 ]
All sorts of pheromones in humans, and I know their meaning a little bit 9%  9%  [ 1 ]
I can't smell pheromones at all 9%  9%  [ 1 ]
very unsure / view results 36%  36%  [ 4 ]
Total votes : 11


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Joined: 10 Dec 2011
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26 Jul 2013, 4:40 am

Though that question might not relate to autism other than in terms of 'cheating' on the lack of meaningful social cues, I have always wondered how many people can actually smell pheromones. If I inhale through my nose in a special way, as if trying to push the air quickly to the very back of it, while opening the sinuses in a certain way, I can very clearly recognize a sort of sixth sense, most similar to normal olfaction but definitely not the same. I recognized it probably more post-puberty when I had become a heavy smoker, which kills your normal sense of smell a lot, but not the pheromone smell, because that's too deep inside the nose.
It works mostly well with sex pheromones and cat (sex) pheromones, but a few times I have been around conversations in a car in the back seat with a female stranger where I had the impression that I could smell generally the psychological state of mind of that stranger (roughly as in: enjoying that particular topic, being impressed by that story, things I normally don't even functionally consider, identify or even think of as relevant in a conversation). That never really happens with the people I am usually around with and it might have just been imagination, especially because that sense is very weak and semi-conscious anyway. But I wonder, if you did really push it and deep-inhaled vividly all the time while talking to people, would you be able to learn and properly identify the meaning of the different types of odors (I just don't know what a great portion of it is supposed to mean)? Are there just some people who don't emit pheromones or not enough to smell them or only sex pheromones but nothing psychological (which I believe to be the case)? Is it partly or completely voluntary, subconsciously or consciously, regarding sex pheromones and otherwise?

Current hard scientific knowledge about the subject is that most people have the vomeronasal organ (largely responsible for smelling pheromones in other mammals), but the organ is generally hard to find and not as pronounced in humans as in most other animals. So the bottom line is that basically no one knows to what extends it functions in what portion of the population or if it functions at all and it is guessed that it does rather not function in humans.

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26 Jul 2013, 4:58 am

Yes, and I've always been able to sense/smell strong emotions. Notably fear has a distinct scent on humans. I know this sense is more prominent for me than in my neurotypical counterparts. Plus, I am firstly a chemist so I do use my sense of smell to navigate certain reagents. I've had pet dogs (love dogs) and they too have an astoundingly acute ability to sense human emotion, presumably based upon their scent. Granted, I often don't know what the emotion might 'mean', given the context, but it's detectable to me. I cannot discern 'fine emotions' or subtleties, but raw emotions (e.g. fear) have a scent on humans. I cannot answer about other mammals (except maybe pets) because I do not really interact with them enough. But then, their emotions are basal and therefore far easier to know anyway.

The ones who say “You can’t” and “You won’t” are probably the ones scared that you will. - Unknown


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Joined: 15 Jul 2013
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26 Jul 2013, 5:02 am

I'm not sure if I can smell pheremones but I do think people have a certain smell to them in general - assuming they don't use anything that changes how they smell.

We all unconciously smell them and I've heard it said we even unconciously know someones blood-type by smell and are more attracted to people with a different blood type. Maybe as an exercise in curiosity ask your parents what their blood types are.

I noticed if I use a good aftershave I generally get some (more than usual) nice looks from women even if i don't look my best but I'm not sure if the aftershave uses a pheremone based formula - it could be it just makes me smell nice.