A new study has found that the odor of sweat helps in spreading happiness in humans.
Gun Semin, a psychological scientist at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands, who is a senior researcher on the study, suggests that humans produce chemosignals, or chemical compounds, when they experience happiness, which is detectable by others humans who smell the sweat.
Researchers suggest that previous work has found that negative emotions in humans that are related to disgust and fear are linked via noticeable regularities in the chemical compounds of sweat. However, there are very few studies that have found if similar communicative functions are true in regards of positive emotions.
"Our study shows that being exposed to sweat produced under happiness induces a simulacrum of happiness in receivers, and induces a contagion of the emotional state," says Semin. "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."
The study involved sweat sample collection from 12 Caucasian men. None of the participants had any history of psychological disorders. All the participants were non-smokers and were not under any medication. The study barred the participants from getting engaged in sexual activity, alcohol use, excessive physical exerciser and consuming smelly food during the course of the study.
All the participants went to a lab washed and dried their armpits. The researchers then attached absorbent pads to the armpits of all participants and were given pre-washed T-shirt to wear. The participants were shown videos that were meant to induce several emotional states such as neutral, fear and happiness. They were also shown Chinese symbols and were asked to rate if they were unpleasant or pleasant. Sweat pads from the armpits were removed and sweat samples were analyzed.
The study also involved 36 Caucasian women, who did not suffer from respiratory diseases, psychological disorder or any other illness. This part of the study involved only females as scientists believe that females are more emotionally sensitive and also possess better sense of smell.
The women were given sweat samples of men with a break of five minutes in between smelling sweat samples.
Scientists note that the video clips actually influenced men emotionally. Men who viewed fear video reflected negative emotion, while men who viewed happy video showed mostly positive emotions. These emotions were also communicated to the female participants.
Females exposed to sweat of happy men had happy expression, while women who smelled sweat of unhappy men showed unhappy expressions.
The study is important as it highlights that positive emotions can be communicated chemically with sweat.
Photo: Jeffrey Montes | Flickr