Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Mark Goldman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marina Bornovalova, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jack Darkes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cheryl Kirstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lynn Wecker, Ph.D.


Pheromones, Alcohol, Alcohol expectancies, Evolutionary psychology


Recent research has shown that sexual activity may be influenced by variables suggested by evolutionary theory, such as pheromonal cues. A recent study in our laboratory indicated that female pheromones influence men’s drinking and approach behavior based on hidden pathways of behavioral influence caused by chemosensory signals. The current study sought to examine whether a link exists between male pheromones and women’s drinking and approach behavior, through the use of a possible male sex pheromone called androstenone, and sought to examine this link within the context of a women’s ovulation cycle. One hundred and three female participants were primed with either androstenone or a control scent and then completed measures assessing their beer consumption, approach behavior, and ovulatory phase. Results of the study indicated that females who were exposed to the androstenone prime drank significantly more than those exposed to the control prime, though results indicated no differences between groups in terms of approach behavior. No interaction effects existed between group condition and ovulatory phase on beer consumption or approach behavior; however, a limited amount of participants were ovulating when they completed the study, as indicated by a biological assay. The results from the current study implicate a specific pathway to alcohol use through biological signals within a sexual context. The findings from this study expand the existing literature on olfactory and pheromone signaling of sexual behavior in humans and shed light on newly uncovered biological pathways of influence on human behaviors.