22nd June 2017: The Importance of Being Smelly by Mairi MacLeod

Come along to Cabaret Voltaire (36-38 Blair St, Edinburgh, EH1 1QR), doors open at 6.30pm and the talks start from 7pm. Come along for a bite of food, a chance to socialise and a talk about the science of attraction…


Title of talk:

The Importance of Being Smelly


Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • Sense of smell in humans is much more important than most people are aware of, and scientists have dubbed us the “scented ape”.
  • Perhaps the most important function of our sense of smell is that of mate choice.
  • Women can smell dominance in men and men can smell fertility in women.
  • The genes of the MHC, a highly variable part of our genome, gives us all a unique personal smell.
  • We are sexually attracted to the smell of those who are genetically compatible with us, with implications for relationship and sexual satisfaction, fertility and child health.
  • The use of perfume has a surprising effect on our biological signalling.


A few paragraphs on your subject:

You might not think your sense of smell is particularly essential, but research is showing that we give and receive all sorts of important signals through the olfactory channel and scientists have dubbed humans “the scented ape”. We glean information on each others’ age, gender, emotions and even personality through our noses, but perhaps the most important function of our sense of smell is that of mate choice.
Body odour has been an important facet of sexual attraction throughout history and across cultures. Women smell dominance in men, while men can pick up on women’s fertility. But there are some aspects of body odour that are truly individual: We all have a unique personal scent which comes about as a result of our genes and we are sexually attracted to the smell of those of our target sex who are genetically compatible with us.
In this talk, I’ll explain why liking your partner’s natural smell is vital for relationship satisfaction, sexual attraction and fidelity, fertility and our children’s health. I’ll also reveal the rather surprising effects of perfume and of “the pill” on the biological signals we give out and receive via smelliness.

A few paragraphs about you:

Mairi Macleod started out her career as a biologist and for her PhD studied the mating and reproductive strategies of wild samango monkeys in South Africa. On returning to the UK she began some reproduction of her own and changed tack work-wise by becoming a freelance science journalist. She has written extensively on the science of sex and attraction, relationships and reproduction for New Scientist Magazine, the Guardian, the Observer, the Sunday Times, the Independent, the Scotsman and many more.
She also writes a blog at http://sexyscience.co/ . She lectures at the University of Edinburgh, runs workshops on the “Science of Attraction & Relationships in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, and runs corporate workshops to bring an evolutionary approach to improving workplace relationships and productivity: http://sexyscience.co/

What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend to others if they wish to explore your chosen theme further?

Here’s one of my blog posts about how hairiness in men is important for imparting smell:
Here’s a nice article by Craig Roberts of Stirling Uni and colleagues on perfume:
And here’s an article by Michael Stoddart:
And here’s a piece about the research on how people can match others to their perfumes:

What are your weblinks?

Website – http://sexyscience.co/
Blog – http://sexyscience.co/
Twitter – @SexyScience1
Facebook – sexyscience1
Public Email – [email protected]
Any others….