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The smell of cooperativeness: Do human body odours advertise cooperative behaviours?

Arnaud Tognetti (), Valérie Durand (), Dimitri Dubois (), Melissa Barkat-Defradas (), Astrid Hopfensitz and Camille Ferdenzi ()
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Arnaud Tognetti: Karolinska Institutet [Stockholm], IAST - Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse
Valérie Durand: UMR ISEM - Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier - Cirad - Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement - EPHE - École Pratique des Hautes Études - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres - Institut de recherche pour le développement [IRD] : UR226 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UM - Université de Montpellier
Dimitri Dubois: CEE-M - Centre d'Economie de l'Environnement - Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement - Institut Agro Montpellier - Institut Agro - Institut national d'enseignement supérieur pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement - UM - Université de Montpellier
Melissa Barkat-Defradas: UMR ISEM - Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier - Cirad - Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement - EPHE - École Pratique des Hautes Études - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres - Institut de recherche pour le développement [IRD] : UR226 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UM - Université de Montpellier
Camille Ferdenzi: CRNL - Centre de recherche en neurosciences de Lyon - Lyon Neuroscience Research Center - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet - Saint-Étienne - Université de Lyon - INSERM - Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

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Abstract: Several physical features influence the perception of how cooperative a potential partner is. While previous work focused on face and voice, it remains unknown whether body odours influence judgements of cooperativeness and if odour-based judgements are accurate. Here, we first collected axillary odours of cooperative and uncooperative male donors through a public good game and used them as olfactory stimuli in a series of tasks examining whether and how they influence cooperative decision-making in an incentivized economic game and ratings of cooperativeness. Our results show that having access to the donor's body odours provided a strategic advantage to women during economic decisions (but not to men): with age, women were more likely to cooperate with cooperative men and to avoid interacting with uncooperative men. Ratings of cooperativeness were nonetheless unrelated to the donors' actual cooperativeness. Finally, while men with masculine and intense body odours were judged less cooperative, we found no evidence that donors' actual cooperativeness was associated with less masculine or less intense body odour. Overall, our findings suggest that, as faces and voices, body odours influence perceived cooperativeness and might be used accurately and in a non-aware manner as olfactory cues of cooperativeness, at least by women.

Keywords: body odours; chemosensory cues; economic games; partner choice (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-evo, nep-exp and nep-neu
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.science/hal-03654936
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Published in British Journal of Psychology, 2022, 113 (2), pp.531-546. ⟨10.1111/bjop.12544⟩

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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:hal:journl:hal-03654936

DOI: 10.1111/bjop.12544

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