New paper: Perfume experts’ perceptions of body odors: Toward a new lexicon for body odor description

Human axillary (armpit) odors are highly diverse and have potential to reveal a wide range of individual information. This is echoed in gas chromatography findings, which show that axillary odors are comprised of many volatile compounds. Despite this, only a small number of verbal descriptors are used when investigating the perceptual qualities of body odors. We set out to develop a lexicon that would capture these perceptual qualities in more detail, working alongside perfumers and fragrance evaluators in order to benefit from their expertise in olfactory perception and semantic labeling of odors. Four experts developed a list of 15 verbal descriptors based on an exemplar set of male and female axillary samples, and then rated 62 samples (31 men and 31 women) using these. We explored the predictive value of these ratings, finding that subsets of descriptors distinguished male from female samples, appearing to be more reliable than explicit judgments of odor sex.

Authors: Caroline Allen, Jan Havlíček, Kate Williams and S. Craig Roberts

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