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Does Your Nose Help Pick Your Friends?



By: Rachel Liao


Around June 24, 2022, researchers in an olfaction lab conducted an experiment to shed light on the relationships between humans and the middle nose region of their faces. This experiment was done to determine the connection between friends and strangers.


As individuals, we refrain from the peculiar behavior of smelling each other. However, there has been a theory of being able to “bear messages” only from body odor.

Some scientists decided to put this theory to the test.


Olfaction, or the sense of smell, is the study of carried chemical information in the body, from central nervous systems to brain activity. Scientists who are currently investigating this wonder if molecules wafting from the small of our bodies could have a relationship with the noses and brains of others.


They asked, “Are the molecules wafting off our skin 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 normal scientific experiment, the workers would make an observation, ask a question, form a hypothesis, a prediction, experiment, retest, analyze, and draw a conclusion.


Although it seemed that the scientists were just starting this process, they have prematurely figured what they would do during the experiment, which fastened their pace.


In one that has been published on Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, researchers have brought two good friends together and discovered that their body odor had closer similarities than expected. Another experiment was when two strangers were instructed to play a game together, and their body odor determined whether they felt a good connection.


From this, scientists have picked up the information that friends have more characteristics in common than those strangers. This is not only by body odor, but also ages, hobbies, appearance, and brain activity. Altogether, their actions affect what they will do together in life.


“It’s very probable that at least some of them were using perfumes when they met,” Inbal Ravreby, an olfaction researcher and a graduate in the lab of Noam Solbel, stated. “But it did not mask whatever they had in common.”


To test this in bigger groups so that they can announce the discovery to ordinary citizens who want to find or get more friends, the researchers took this slowly.


The first group had 20 pairs of “click friends.” They were provided a series of instructions and then had 25 other volunteers depict the smell, using an electronic nose to assess the volatiles of the T-shirts. Once again, the result was that friends’ odors had more similarities than those of strangers.


This discovery led the researchers to extend their goal even further. They wanted to know what would happen between many people at everyday or occasional activities.


To drive themselves more, they would contradict their own results, but provide reasons for how may be similar. For instance, if they are at restaurants, the smell may be the same for all, regardless of the relationship.


The olfaction researchers were on the case again. This time, they brought 132 strangers in the room, wearing a similar T-shirt, and provided instructions to play a mirroring game. Just like the experiment that was published in the journal Science Advances, participants had to document whether they felt a positive connection.


To the researcher’s surprise, the results were striking, with a percentage of 71. This symbolizes that if the smell of the other participant is similar to one’s own, the likelihood to have a good connection with that person is greater.


This study and the experiments provide a much more concise explanation than the mere justification that we either admire or despise the scent of someone when they walk past us. These results demonstrate how one’s sense of smell could help you choose who you could have a good life-long relationship with.



Sources cited:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/appforest_uf/f1656875608498x655947992108723200/Does%20Your%20Nose%20Help%20Pick%20Your%20Friends_%20-%20The%20New%20York%20Times.pdf

https://www.pennlive.com/life/2022/06/follow-your-nose-smell-may-help-pick-your-friends-study-says.html

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