You just came back from your daily exercise routine. You’re gross, you’re sweaty, yet you’re feeling really good. Your partner can totally tell. Not by the huge smile on your face or the little pep in your step. But by the smell of your sweat. According to science, anyway. A new study found that people are able to communicate positive emotions like happiness through the smell of their sweat.
According to a study published in Psychological Science, when we’re happy, we produce chemical compounds called chemosignals that are detectable by people who take a whiff of our sweat. Senior researcher on the study and psychological scientist, Gün Semin of Utrecht University in the Netherlands said, “Our study shows that being exposed to sweat produced under happiness induces a simulacrum of happiness in receivers, and induces a contagion of the emotional state. This suggests that somebody who is happy will infuse others in their vicinity with happiness. In a way, happiness sweat is somewhat like smiling – it is infectious.”
Previous research on chemosignals have been more focused on its links to negative emotions such as fear and disgust. Let’s say you’re on a date. You’re watching the latest horror movie and you’re really into it because that’s totally your thing. You look over at your date and they’re just sitting there pretending all is fine and dandy, yet something inside you is telling you that really isn’t the case. You just know they’re scared shitless. Now you know why. If hips don’t lie, sweat doesn’t either.
Not much has been done with chemosignals and positive emotions. Until now. Researchers recruited males to provide sweat samples for the study. They went to the lab where they wore pre-washed T-shirts and absorbent pads on their armpits. Then, they were given video clips to watch, each to induce an emotional state of fear, happiness, and neutral. They found that generally, the men responded with the same emotional state as the videos they watched. As in, if they watched a happy clip, they felt happier afterward. After watching the clips, the sweat pads were removed and then stored in vials.
Next up, women were told to smell the sweat samples of the males. The researchers found that when women were exposed to the “fear sweat," they made facial expressions that indicated fear. When they were exposed to “happy sweat,” they made facial expressions that indicated happiness.
Semin believes that their findings could be of particular interest to the “odor industry.” After all, who wouldn’t want happiness stored in a bottle?
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