The Smell of Fear and Disgust

© Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Among our five senses, the sense of smell is the oldest sense. People can detect at least one trillion distinct scents and research has shown that women have a better sense of smell than men.

One interesting study published in the journal Psychological Science entitled “Chemosignals Communicate Human Emotions” suggest that people can smell feelings of fear and disgust through sweat, and then they can experience the same emotions.

The 2012 study conducted at Utrecht University in the Netherlands collected sweat from men as they watched movies that elicited feelings of fear and disgust. To remain odor-neutral, they asked the men to use scent-free products, quit smoking and eliminate alcohol consumption.

Women participants they completed visual search tests, which unknowingly smelling the sweaty samples. They eye movement and facial expressions were recorded and examined.

Researchers found that women who smelled the “fear sweat” opened their eyes widely in a fearful expression, and the women who smelled the “disgust sweat” also displayed facial expressions of disgust.

The researchers suggest that these findings underline the neglected social relevance of chemosignals in regulating communicative correspondence outside of conscious access.

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