And no, that's not just down to whether or not the man or woman is wearing Joop aftershave or Chanel perfume. Scientists in China and researchers from the University of Minnesota have completed a study which comes the closest yet to proving humans have an innate ability to discern between genders by scent alone.
The findings from the study, published in Current Biology, came from an experiment that saw a small group of men and women of different sexual orientations unwittingly exposed to male, female and neutral scents while watching a genderless representation of a person walking on a computer. When heterosexual men were exposed to female hormone estratetraenol they identified the computer figure as walking with a more lady-like stance, while heterosexual women believed the figure appeared more masculine when they had been exposed to male hormone androstadienone. Homosexual male test subjects responded in most cases more like the straight women than the straight men, while bisexual and homosexual women had the most varied response of all test groups.
Though the researchers were reluctant to suggest the results prove that the hormones act as sex pheromones or sexual stimulants (this would have required measuring the results of exposure to different intensities of the hormones), it's the clearest suggestion yet that both men and women have uniquely-identifiable scents. [Time]