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Does Your Nose Help Pick Your Friends?



By: Anthony Zhang


People pick friends with many similarities of their own -appearance, personality, hobbies- but can a person’s odor be one of them? Researchers found that friends who “clicked” instantly had similar body odors. “Click” friends are pairs who bonded instantly after first impressions.


Every person has their own odors, some pleasant, some not. Scientists who study human smell wonder if skin molecule scent is triggering some message in the noses and brains of people around them. Are they sending stimuli that influence our decisions? Does it help pick our friends?


In the Wednesday publication of the journal Science Advances, it showed that pairs of friends who “clicked instantly” had similar body odors. And when the researchers got pairs of strangers to play a game together, their body odors correlated whether they felt they had a good connection; however, the research hadn’t stopped there.


Inbal Ravreby, a graduate student in Noam Sobel’s Lab, recruited 20 pairs of so-called “click friends.” Next, she put them through many strict procedures to reduce variability: stop eating foods like onions and garlic, stop using after-shave and deodorant, and bathe with an unscented soap. Then the subjects put on a fresh, clean, lab-provided T-shirt and slept in it so it gets all the odor molecules before handing it over to the scientists for review.


The evidence they found supported the claim that friends with similar odors tend to “click” instantly. “It’s very probable that at least some of them were using perfumes when they met,” Ravreby speculated. “But it did not mask whatever they had in common.”


Now, Ravreby is looking into the possibility of modifying people’s body odor to see if that can cause “click friends.” If scent correlates with their behavior, that’s more evidence that, like other terrestrial mammals, scent plays a major part in our decisions. “If you think of the bouquet that is body odor, it’s 6,000 molecules at least,” Dr. Sobel said. “There are 6,000 that we know of already — it’s probably way more.” It really shows how unappreciated scent is.


Scent is not just for onions and garlic, but friends.




Link:https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/24/science/friendship-scent-odor.html

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