Disease, body odor, and red clothes. 05 Apr 2016

Tuesday, April 05, 2016 Rob 4 Comments

Are you sick of how you smell? We investigate the link between susceptibility to disease and attraction to the body odour of others and ourselves. Also, how do women choose to wear red clothes?

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Sick of How You Smell?
Put on That Red Dress?

Our natural perfume can attract, or repel, potential mates: and sometimes ourselves! wackystuff/Flickr

The articles covered in the show:

Muggleton, N. K., & Fincher, C. L. (in press). The effects of disease vulnerability on preferences for self-similar scent. Evolutionary Psychological Science. Read paper

Niesta Kayser, D., Agthe, M., & Maner, J. K. (2016). Strategic sexual signals: Women's display versus avoidance of the color red depends on the attractiveness of an anticipated interaction partner. PLoS One, 11(3), e0148501. Read paper


  1. Psychology of colour is always interesting.

    Personally, I used to hate wearing red because that was my House colour back in secondary school. Anything charcoal grey, navy or red were all repulsive as they reminded me of the lack of autonomy as school children.

    That was until 4 years ago when I had to wear a red bridesmaid dress. I looked great in photos, so I started wearing red all the time. Then I noticed women of "similar sexual viability" treat me horribly when I wear red. Wearing red may give out that "the game is on" vibe. Now I tend to wear less red when I'm going to be around women.

    What I'm saying is, maybe some women are sometimes wearing less red to avoid conflicts with other women?

  2. Yes, I think it will be interesting when researchers turn to the topic of competition, as the authors of this study suggest. We're seeing a similar trend in studies of men too (e.g. do men work out to attract women or to out-compete men?)

    ps. Red was also my house colour at school, after they abolished my original house. I refused to change my tie because I am COOL and a REBEL.

  3. Where's the podcast this month????

  4. Due to a last minute change of plans, I am not in the same city as the computer I make the podcast on. It will be out later this week. Sorry!


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