According to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science the smell of sweat can help spread happiness in humans. It seems that a woman who is exposed to the sweat of a man who is in a happy mood will respond positively to the odor.
Scientists started from the idea that humans produce chemical compounds called chemosignals when they are feel happy. These chemosignals can be detected by other people in the sweat of the happy individuals. According to a professor of psychology at Utrecht University, Gün Semin, the smell was the first sense which evolved.
12 men were involved in the study. They were non-smokers, took no medication and did not have any psychological problems. In the study the men were required to watch a video which was supposed to induce one of three moods: happiness, fear or no emotion at all. They were also asked to observe a series of Chinese symbols and say how pleasant or unpleasant they considered the signs to be. Afterwards researchers took sweat samples from them.
Previous studies suggest that negative emotions such as disgust and fear are linked to certain chemical compounds of the sweat. Semin explained that their study proves that being exposed to sweat generated by happiness triggers a replica of happiness in those who smell it. As a consequence people who are in a happy mood can transmit their disposition to those who are nearby them. Semin added that happiness sweat could be compared with smiling which is considered to be infectious.
The researchers chose women to smell the samples of sweat since they are more sensitive to emotional signals and they can better detect smells. 36 women were involved in the study. They did not have any respiratory problem, psychological disorder or problems of any other kind. When the women smelled the sweat generated by fear their medial frontalis was activated; this is a reaction associated with fear. In comparison, when they were supposed to smell “happy sweat” they responded with a Duchene smile, which is linked to positive emotions.
The researchers drew the conclusion that exposure to body odor which was collected from individuals who send chemosignals in a happy state can generate a facial expression which indicates happiness in those who receive the chemosignals. Moreover, not only happy feelings can be transmitted but also negative ones.
“The odor industry may benefit from their findings, noting that the fact happiness can be transferred to others chemically may have potential commercial applications.”
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