Written by : Jim Gold

The Sweet Smell of Happiness

Apparently, some people are literally dripping with happiness. The smell of sweat actually can spread emotions, says a new study.

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Research shows that our sweat can transmit emotions.

Apparently, some people are literally dripping with happiness. The smell of sweat actually can spread emotions, says a new study.

We produce chemical compounds, or chemosignals, in our sweat when we experience happiness, says the study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Our chemosignals can be detected by others when they smell us.

Emotions are contagious

These chemosignals trigger a "contagion of the emotional state," says Gün Semin of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, psychological scientist and according to senior study author. "This suggests that somebody who is happy will infuse others in their vicinity with happiness. In a way, happiness sweat is somewhat like smiling—it is infectious."

Past research already showed chemical compounds in sweat emit negative emotions, but few studies examined positive emotions.

Happy sweat

Researchers recruited 12 men who were prohibited from engaging in alcohol use, sexual activity, consumption of smelly food or excessive exercise during the study. After taping moisture-absorbing pads to their underarms, the men view video clips making them feel happy, afraid, or neutral. Then 36 women in a blind test smelled the sweaty pads while scientists monitored their facial expressions.

Women exposed to “fear sweat” showed greater activity in the medial frontalis muscle, a common feature of fear expressions. And women exposed to “happy sweat” showed more facial muscle activity indicative of a Duchenne smile, a common component of happiness expressions.

Smells in sync

Women generally have both a better sense of smell and a greater sensitivity to emotional signals than men, the researchers say. But when it comes to a sweat donor and a sweat smeller, they say, the findings suggest a certain level of “behavioral synchronization.”


Does this study pass the smell test? We'll leave it to you to sniff out the flaws. Leave us your comments, below.

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