Feeling Down? Smell a Happy Person's Sweat

Study suggests chemicals in body odor can affect others
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2015 8:52 AM CDT
Feeling Down? Smell a Happy Person's Sweat
Romania's Simona Halep raises her arms after winning a match. She likely smells happy.   (AP Photo/David Vincent)

Scientists think they've figured out a way for people to feel happier, but applying it in real life might be a little weird: It involves getting a whiff of a happy person's armpits. It seems that we humans secrete chemicals in sweat that reflect our emotional states, and people who happen to get a sniff pick up on the vibes, reports Discovery. In the experiment, Dutch researchers had men watch happy, scary, and neutral videos with absorbent pads on their armpits, explains Medical News Today. Afterward, they had women sniff the pads, keeping a close eye on their facial movements. Sure enough, when they sniffed the "fear" pads, muscles associated expressions of fear were active. The same applied to the "happy" pads.

"This suggests that somebody who is happy will infuse others in their vicinity with happiness," says lead researcher Gun Semin of Utrecht University. "In a way, happiness sweat is somewhat like smiling—it is infectious." Another researcher elaborates to the Huffington Post on the evolutionary reason why this might have come to be: "If chemosignals of fear may have served to warn [fellow humans], chemosignals produced during positive states such as happiness may have served to facilitate bonding." The team thinks its study in the journal Psychological Science has "potential commercial applications," but leaves the details on that to our imaginations. (An earlier study identified the culprit that makes your BO smell.)

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