He sees, she smells? Male and female reports of sensory reliance in mate choice and non-mate choice contexts

Jan Havlicek, Tamsin K. Saxton, S. Craig Roberts, Eva Jozifkova, Stanislav Lhota, Jaroslava Valentova, Jaroslav Flegr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Men and women differ in the importance that they ascribe to the characters of a potential mate. Previous work has shown that women rate olfactory cues as more important than men in mate choice. We investigated whether this sex difference (a) is specific to the mate choice context; (b) is reliant upon sexual experience; and (c) exhibits cross-cultural differences between the US (previous study) and the Czech Republic (current study). A questionnaire on the importance of particular senses in different situations was administered to 717 Czech high school students. We replicated existing findings of greater reliance on olfactory cues by women, and of visual cues by men, both for partner choice and during sexual arousal. We also found that women valued olfactory cues significantly more than men in non-sexual contexts. Principal components analysis showed that responses could be grouped by both context and sensory modality. There was no apparent influence of sexual experience on sensory reliance. Cultural differences were also evident: the Czech high school students of our sample rated body odors more positively, and were less visually oriented, than the US university students of previous work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-570
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Human
  • Perception
  • Smell
  • Mate choice
  • Gender
  • Sex differences
  • Olfaction
  • Body odor


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