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December 9, 2011 at 3:54 PMComments: 4 Faves: 2

The Nose Knows! Study Shows We Can SMELL Personality Traits

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This Author

The realm of psychology news is abuzz this week with the prowess and powers of the nose! Seems having a nose is a little like being psychic: study participants predicted personalities, and the presence of STD's, with a single whiff!

Is this guy worth getting to know?  Is that girl your type?

If you HAD to predict how dominant, neurotic, or outgoing they were, which would be more helpful: a video or a sweat sample?...Did you answer “video”?

Trick question! ;D According to a new study published this week, they’re equal indicators!

In the first ever test of our ability to read personality via body odor, study author Agnieszka Sorokowska asked 30 men and 30 women to wear a white cotton t-shirt to bed for three nights in a row in order to garner a clear scent. To preserve the “purity” of their B.O. the use of fragrances, deodorants, and soaps was forbidden, along with smoking, and eating or drinking certain odorous foods. Then, having successful scented their t-shirts, participants took a personality test and then, in came the “odor dectors”!

200 hundred study participants, split equally between men and women, took a sniff of 6 shirts (placed in bags, not in their hands – gross! ;P ) and did their best to predict what type of  personality belonged to the odor. They filled out assessments that were identical to the ones the “odor donors” had filled out for themselves.

The results?

Well… okay, they were far from perfect matches, but the “odor detectors” did at least as good a job at predicting the “odor donors'” personality after smelling their sweat as another study’s participants did after watching  a video of the person they were trying to judge!

Seems the area they predicted with most accuracy was dominance, and their accuracy at predicting dominance improved when they smelled the sweat of an opposite sex “odor donor.” As researchers suggest, this is probably because of this trait’s special importance in a potential mate.  Our female ancestors would fare better with a strong, dominant male to protect and provide for them.

Nose Training - The Many Scents of B.O. !

  • Woman- “Onion” Analysis show that although a woman’s sweat is very high in sulfur – which would make them smell, well… like flatulence – it's actually odorless until it mixes with their armpit bacteria called “thiol,” which creates a smell most accurately described as “onion.”
  • Man- “Cheese” Remember that famous commercial claim “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman?” It sounds impressive – until you learn that it’s women, not men in need of the higher strength deodorant! In fact, compared with a woman’s sweat, men have only 1/10th  of the odor creating compound women have. In thier case, it’s fatty acid rather than sulfur combines with that thiol armpit bacteria . In the end, you have a cheesy, rather than oniony, scent. Funny thing is, as disgusting as it may seem, when women eat cheese, it pushes their thoughts to men, while when men eat onions they have a similar experience.
  • Dominant – “Urine” Very dominant people may owe their assertiveness to having more testosterone than the average person, and they may owe their unique B.O. to the same thing. To most people surveyed, testosterone smells a bit like stale urine when distilled to its purest form though, interestingly,  20% found the smell significantly sweeter and more pleasant - like vanilla or honey. This may have to do with the state of the person smelling it. Women, for example, reportedly like the smell of testosterone significantly better when they are at their peak fertility.
  • Neurotic – “Metallic” Neurotism essentially smells like strong B.O. because anxiety and stress make people sweat like crazy. However, distinct to neurotic people is the adrenaline edge their B.O. takes on. Reportedly the best way to describe this is “metallic”.
  • STD - Infected – “Putrid”. In another smell study published this week, it was found that just as rats, which smell the disease on other rats and avoid them, people have a much more negative reaction to the sweat of people with an STD than they do to the sweat of healthy person or someone who has been successfully treated. The word they used was “putrid”. ;p

As study researcher Agnieszka Sorokowska explains, not only do we express ourselves physically through our dress and body language, "we also express ourselves with how we smell,” and with that in mind, keep it fresh people, and see you next week with anotherId and Ego! ;)

Photo Credit:

opacity, Alexandre Dulaunoy, 


Calm Clinic: Anxiety and the Connection to Body Odor

Scribol: Men Smell Like Cheese, Women Smell Like Onions

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  • Interesting article! I would never even think to do such a study. I do however tend to want to smell everything especially new gifts that I open up!

  • That's Such a cool read. I want a cheesy urine smell. haha

  • Good Read!

  • :)

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