Androstadienone modulates human aggression in a sex-dependent manner

Yin Wu, Ran Wei, Yu Nan, Yang Hu, Yuting Ye

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Chemosensory communication is ubiquitous in human social interaction. Androstadienone is a potential candidate human sex pheromone that is associated with social dominance and competition. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of androstadienone on aggression. We specifically distinguished two types of aggression, namely proactive and reactive aggression. Two hundred and six male and female participants received either androstadienone or a control carrier in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-participants design. Participants performed two aggression tasks, one on reactive aggression and the other on proactive aggression, while they were exposed to the olfactory stimuli. The results revealed that for men, smelling androstadienone reduced both reactive and proactive aggression, whereas it increased reactive aggression in women. These effects were present despite the olfactory stimuli not being explicitly discriminable. These findings provide direct evidence that androstadienone modulates human aggression in a sex-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbernsad006
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023


  • aggression
  • androstadienone
  • chemosignaling
  • dominance
  • sexual dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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