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Wednesday, 29 June 2022 – Researchers in Israel have stated that people who have similar body odours are more likely to make friends with each other.

The scientists say they made the decision by smelling clothes with a device called an ‘eNose’ which suggest that the sense of smell may play a larger role in human social interactions than previously thought.

Researchers found out that two dogs carefully sniff each other before deciding whether to play or bark viciously.

They say the sense of smell plays a major role in social interactions and wanted to find out why humans don’t sniff each other before associating with each other like all other mammals do.

The new study was conducted by experts at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel and published in the journal Science Advances.

‘Because humans seek friends who are similar to themselves, we hypothesised that humans may smell themselves and others to subconsciously estimate body odour similarity, which, in turn, may promote friendship,’ the authors say.

‘Perfect strangers may begin to interest us at first sniffs rather than at first sight alone.’

It’s already 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, past studies suggest.

So the researchers hypothesised that humans use their noses in social settings just like other terrestrial mammals, but in a covert way, rather than overt.

According to the team, humans subconsciously sniff ourselves and others, make subliminal comparisons and then gravitate toward others who smell like us.

To prove this, the team recruited pairs of ‘click friends’ same-sex non-romantic friends whose friendships had originally formed very rapidly or ‘clicked’

Researchers collected body odour samples from the click friends and conducted two sets of experiments to compare the samples with those collected from random pairs of individuals.

Humans select mates with similar body odour, except for women who take hormonal contraceptives, a 2019 study found.

Couples from Scotland gave body odour samples both with and without fragranced deodorant, with other participants being ranked by smells by similarity.

Researchers not only found that we are attracted to people with similar odours to ourselves, but that certain contraceptives can alter this perception.

Our ability to smell comes from specialised sensory cells, called olfactory sensory neurons.

These are found in a small patch of tissue high inside the nose.

These cells connect directly to the brain.

Each olfactory neuron has one odour receptor.

In other words, body odour appears to contain information that can predict the quality of social interactions between strangers.

“These results imply that, as the saying goes, there is chemistry in social chemistry,” Weizmann Institute of Science graduate student Inbal Ravreby concludes.

Prof Noam Sobel offers words of caution: “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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