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Does Your Nose Help Pick Friends?

By: Yuming Sun

To most, this would sound a bit strange and fake. However, a study has shown that people who have a personal connection also give off similar body odors. Humans do not go up to people just to smell each other, but we all give off our own body odors. According to The New York Times, “Scientists who study human olfaction, or your sense of smell, wonder if the molecules wafting off our skin may be registering at some subconscious level in the noses and brains of people around us. Are they bearing messages that we use in decisions without realizing it? Might they even be shaping whom we do and don’t like to spend time around?” In a study published Wednesday, researchers investigated pairs of friends whose friendship “clicked” from the beginning. Both showed similar body odors and when researchers got them to play a game, their odors predicted whenever they felt they had a good connection.

There are many things that people look for when finding friends and forming relationships but something very strange might happen to be how someone smells.

Scientists have also found that friends have more in common with each other than they do with strangers, like genetics, patterns of brain activity, and even appearance. Another study that included so-called “click friends” involved putting them through a common body odor research. They stopped eating onions and garlic for a few days and stopped using after-shave and deodorant. They were to bathe with a bar of unscented soap and put on a lab-provided T-shirt and sleep in it, to get it smelly before they handed it to the scientists for a test. Scientists then used an electronic nose to analyze the smell rising from the T-shirts and found that the friends' odors were more similar to each other than the smells of strangers. It meant that odor could have been picked up on when the relationship began. But some might think, “oh, well the friends smell alike because they eat at the same restaurants and have similar lifestyles.” But to prove this wrong, the scientists had 132 more strangers come in to play a game. They stunk up a T-shirt first and then were placed into pairs. The pairs stood close to each other and had to mimic the motions of their partner and were then afterward asked if they felt any connection with their partner. The similarities of their odors were the reason the pair felt a connection 71 percent of the time.

Odor is a very unexpected similarity that occurs during a friendship. It is very strange because most other features that occur are more understandable and reasonable.


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