Weizmann Institute (Israel): Social Bonding by Body Odor very likely

There is a well-known saying that you can either smell or not smell. Civilization education aka legalism has meant that body odor is no longer crucial, yet smell remains the basis of social interaction, as evidenced by a perpetually stable perfume industry. This market would not exist if body odor were not decisive.

The Weizmann Institute of Science has carried out a corresponding study with a so-called ‘e-nose’ and examined what is probably the oldest human sense – smell – in relation to body odour.

The results are predictably convincing: body odor is crucial. With the ‘eNose’ it was possible to determine with an accuracy of 71% whether a positive social relationship was developing or not.

The Weizmann Institute explains this in more detail in its press release: “Weizmann Institute of Science researchers have found that people may have a tendency to form friendships with individuals who have a similar body odor.

The researchers were even able to predict the quality of social interactions between complete strangers by first “smelling” them with a device known as an electronic nose, or eNose. These findings, published today in Science Advances, suggest that the sense of smell may play a larger role in human social interactions than previously thought. (…)

First, several lines of evidence suggest that humans are constantly, although mostly subconsciously, sniffing themselves. Second, humans often subconsciously sniff other people. In addition, it’s known that people tend to become friends with others who are similar to themselves in appearance, background, values and even in measures such as brain activity.

Ravreby hypothesized that when subconsciously sniffing themselves and others, people may be making subliminal comparisons, and that they may then gravitate toward those whose smell is similar to their own. (…)

In fact, when Ravreby and statistician Dr. Kobi Snitz entered the data into a computational model, they were able to predict with 71 percent accuracy which two individuals would have a positive social interaction, based on eNose data alone. In other words, body odor appears to contain information that can predict the quality of social interactions between strangers.”

The researches (Graduate student Inbal Ravreby and Prof. Noam Sobel and head of the Azrieli National Institute for Human Brain Imaging and Research) conclude finally: ““These results imply that, as the saying goes, there is chemistry in social chemistry (…) This is not to say that we act like goats or shrews – humans likely rely on other, far more dominant cues in their social decision-making. Nevertheless, our study’s results do suggest that our nose plays a bigger role than previously thought in our choice of friends.

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