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  • Caitlin Higgie

The Chemistry of Chemistry

Smelt by Caitlin Higgie (she/her) - VUW Science Collective

Have you ever been attracted to someone and wondered, “Why THEM?” Yeah, me too. Well, it turns out it might be because of how they smell

We prefer partners who have different immune system genes than us, and we do this by smelling their immune system via pheromones. 

As a Biomed student, that is SO. ODD. So why does this happen? When two people with optimally different immune systems have children together, those children will have genetically more diverse, robust immune systems and a stronger chance of fighting off a wider range of pathogens more effectively. 

This means that, due to natural selection, the offspring of parents with different immune systems are more likely to live to reproduce and pass on their stronger immunity genes. Because of this biological advantage, species over time have evolved to be able to smell who would be the best partner genetically

Boring science over, what can you get out of this? Well, studies show that having a different immune system from a partner has been linked to greater relationship quality, sexual satisfaction, and better reproductive health as a couple. So that guy in your tutorial that you’ve talked to a few times and instantly seem to click with, maybe you should listen to your gut (or your nose!). 

But NEVER ignore the red flags because you’ve got your rose-coloured pheromone glasses on. Just as there are many fish in the sea, there are many people with dissimilar immune system genes to you.


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