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Humans can sniff happiness via sweat

Contributed by on April 17, 2015 at 8:27 am

Although chemosignalling had previously been shown to convey fear and disgust, little was known about how it related to positive emotions, the researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands said.

This suggests that a happy person would infuse others in their vicinity with happiness.

In order to determine whether emotional chemosignaling extends to positive emotions, the researchers examined whether sweat taken from people in a happy state would influence the behavior, perception and emotional state of people exposed to the sweat.

The researchers recruited 12 Caucasian males to provide the sweat samples for the study.The participants did not smoke or take any medications, and had no diagnosed psychological disorders.

Researchers forbid them from drinking alcohol, having sex, eating smelly foods or exercising excessively. They donned a prewashed T-shirt and sat down to complete the study tasks.

The researchers said: “Happiness benefits the individual on multiple levels, as it restores the damaging impact of negative emotions on the cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and immune systems, and broadens attention to inspire creative ideas”.

The second part of the study focused on women, for they are thought to have a better sense of smell and be more sensitive to emotional signals than men.

They watched a video clip intended to induce a particular emotional state (fear, happiness, neutral).The sweat pads were then removed and stored in vials. Often, it’s not. Audio and visual cues, for instance, both have a relationship to implicit emotions that is similar to olfactory communication, “but not an interactive one”. Meanwhile, Semin and his team were tracking the movement of the women’s facial muscles so that later they could crosscheck the perceived emotion with the emotional state of the man at the time he produced the sweat. But assuming you can bear the added moisture during other parts of your day, science now says the sweat coming through your pores is making your happiness contagious. A vial filled with a sweat sample was then placed in a holder attached to the chin rest, and the women were exposed to three samples (one indicating fear, one indicating happiness and one neutral) with a five-minute break in between each of them.

“Women who were exposed to “happy sweat” showed more facial muscle activity indicative of a Duchenne smile, a common component of happiness expressions.”, the authors noted.

Sniffing: Scientists found that the odours produced by our bodies can communicate our joy to others – a phenomenon known as chemosignalling.

The research indicates that we produce chemical compounds, or chemosignals, when we experience happiness that are detectable by others who smell our sweat. According to Semin, this isn’t entirely surprising.The information our brains attend to isn’t necessarily getting communicated to us explicitly.

“Happiness may be communicated chemically could be of particular interest to the ‘odour industry, ” Semin concluded.

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