Similar smells create social bonds, study says

Similar smells create social bonds, study says

Stop and smell the roses. Then, smell your friends.

OK fine, don’t. But you subconsciously probably already have! A new study from the Weizmann Institute of Science found that folks tend to form friendships with those who have a similar body odor.

Instead of asking some awkward questions, researchers used an electronic nose, or eNose, to “smell” people unfamiliar with one another and then predict the quality of social interactions between them.

Researchers looked at “click” friends, or same-sex friends whose friendships had quickly gelled. In one experiment, they used the e-Nose to detect chemical signatures of odors, finding that click friends smelled more like each other than those who weren’t fast friends.

But couldn’t that be because people from similar walks of life tend to eat and drink the same things?

To examine that possibility, researchers used the e-Nose to “smell” people who were strangers during nonverbal social interactions. After the interactions, participants were asked to rate how well they liked the other person, and how likely they would be to form a friendship. Those who rated their interactions more positively smelled similarly, to the point that researchers were able to use eNose data to predict easily whether two individuals would get along.

No one is suggesting you rely on body odor alone to forge new friendships.

Social cues and anecdotal evidence would suggest people will be more friendly if you aren’t pungent. This study suggests that there’s much more going on when it comes to making friends than we might be conscious of. Regardless, you’ll know when you feel that “click.”

And so will your nose.


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