As Dave noted in class this evening, a study published in 1997 demonstrated that human mate choice was based partially on a protein found in human urine. Given this study is almost 15 years old, I decided to check Web of Science for any new literature on the subject. A review came up, “An initial evaluation of the functions of human olfaction” in the journal Chemical Senses.
From the review:
Evidence for mate choice based on olfactory-driven HLA detection is moderately favorable. Two studies on the closed Hutterite community in the United States have suggested that couples tend to have more dissimilar HLA than one would expect by chance alone and that this dissimilarity effect, so it has been argued, may be driven by olfactory cues (Ober et al. 1997; Ober 1999). However, 2 conceptually similar studies, one on Japanese couples (Ihara et al. 2000) and another on a group of Amerindians (Hendick and Black 1997), have failed to obtain evidence favoring this hypothesis, which may imply that avoidance based on such cues may (perhaps) be obscured by a range of culturally specific factors (see Beauchamp and Yamazaki 1997).
Culturally specific factors…