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Humans Can Smell Fear, and It’s Contagious, Study finds

2 min read

As humans we’ve always known about our abilty to smell, but does this ability to smell extend to sniffing out the feelings of others?

Fear is contagious

Well a study published in the journal of psychological science suggests that as humans not only can we smell fear and disgust, we are also affected by emotions, i.e it is contagious.

To prove thîs, a team of reserachers extracted sweat from under the armpits of 10 men while they watched either frightening scenes from the horror movie “The Shining” or repulsive clips of MTV’s “Jackass.”

Next, due to the fact that past research suggests women are more sensitive to men’s scent than vice versa. The team chose women as the receivers.

36 women were asked to take a visual test while they unknowingly inhaled the scent of men’s sweat. When women sniffed the sweat (fear sweat) extracted from those who watched the horror movie “the shining” they opened their eyes wide in a scared expression, while those smelling sweat from disgusted men (those who watched repulsive clips of MTV’s “Jackass.”) scrunched their faces into a repulsed grimace.

According to the authors, the study suggests that what the nose picks up is not the actual feeling but its chemical signals. This may explain why others can be affected by a frightened individual or why a large crowd can get spooked and stampede like a herd.

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