April 22, 2015
Ah, breathe it in. Smell the roses. That fresh pot of coffee. That just-cut grass. That ... guy's armpit?
Surely, certain scents can evoke a sense of happiness, but a new report suggests that smelling someone's body odor can have a similar effect, Discover reports.
The study, "A Sniff of Happiness," tested the hypothesis that chemicals in human body odor called “chemosignals" can carry information about emotional states.
To test this hypothesis, the researchers evoked emotions in 12 men by showing them movie clips to make them either happy (e.g., “Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book), afraid (e.g., clips from Schindler’s List and Scream 2), or neutral (e.g., American weather forecasts). During each condition, the researchers collected sweat from the shaved armpits of the subjects.
Female subjects were then asked to smell the sweat samples. The electrical impulses of their facial expressions were measured.
"We observed that exposure to body odor collected from senders of chemosignals in a happy state induced a facial expression and perceptual-processing style indicative of happiness in the receivers of those signals," the report states. "Our findings suggest that not only a negative effect but also a positive state (happiness) can be transferred by means of odors."
So, if you're having a bad day, maybe find the happiest person around and take a whiff?
Smell ya later.