When we meet a person for the first time, it takes a bit of time for us to know that person. Humans often use their sixth sense or intuition to get a palpable sense of who a person is. But as it turns out, we can also rely on our olfactory senses to help us out. Animals still use their sense of smell to anticipate danger and to get a tangible sense of other animals. But as we climbed up the stairs of evolution, we lost out on this incredible power, or so we thought.
Some scientists are looking into this trait to see if we still have some of our residual power left in us. Studies are being conducted with people to see if they can smell any emotional difference in people. Participants of these studies could assess a person’s personality type from a mere whiff of their clothes. They could almost accurately tell whether a person is outgoing or dominant. Some people could also accurately assess if the other person was anxious. These studies had some ups and downs but researchers could tell that humans take into consideration visual, audio as well as olfactory cues while forming their first impression about someone.
The Sense Of Smell Test
A doctoral candidate Agnieszka Sorokowska from the University of Wroclaw, Poland conducted a test with 30 men and women. Participants were barred from using soaps, deodorants and eating odorous foods during this study. Shirts from all the candidates were taken for this examination. Also, these participants were given a personality test to assess their real life personalities beforehand.
In the second phase, over 100 people were asked to participate in the odor examination of the shirts. Each shirt was examined by 20 people on the basis of its smell and then the examiners were asked to describe the personality type of the shirt owner.
The results of the examiners matched perfectly with that of the participants of the study over three personality traits; extroversion (the tendency of being social), neuroticism (the tendency to feel anxious) and dominance (the tendency to lead).
The prediction of the examiners were beyond perfect in terms of assessing the levels of extroversion and neuroticism of the participants. But the assessment of dominance was accurate by the examiners when they were examining the shirts of the opposite sex. This is an important criteria for choosing a mate, suggests the scientist.
The Connection Between Body Odor And Our Emotions
Scientists believe that some of our emotions can trigger physiological changes in us. Some of our emotions can influence our odor. We might not able to sense that ourselves but others apparently can. It is an evolutionary trait that is still existent in us, but it lies dormant most of the time.
Researchers believe that people who are more likely to be stressed tend to sweat more than others. This can influence the chemical balance in their bodies and also the underarm bacteria. Thus, their emotional state can make them smell different.
Personality has often been linked to our hormones. Scientists have found out that people who are more dominant have more testosterone in their bodies. This is believed to have an impact on their sweat glands that can make them smell different than others. More research is required in this area. Hence, it is difficult to confirm this claim as of now until more is done.
Olfactory senses still play a big role in the animal kingdom. Animals still rely on it heavily to communicate their dominance as well as mating sensibilities to other animals. Animals even use smell to assess fear and anxiety. So, it is only acceptable to think that humans too might be able to communicate a bit with their smell.