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Humans Can Smell Fear

Study Finds That Humans Communicate by Smell
Ralph Orlowski, Getty Images

It’s long been thought that humans lack odor-sensing organs that would enable us to communicate by smell, but a new study suggest that people can, in fact, detect some emotions with their noses, such as fear and disgust.

Scientists at Utrecht University in the Netherlands collected armpit sweat from 10 men as they watched scary scenes from ‘The Shining’ or disgusting clips from MTV’s ‘Jackass.’ Then they asked 36 women to take a visual test while they unwittingly inhaled the scent from the sweat.

Turns out, the women displayed scared expressions when they sniffed the fear sweat and twisted their faces when smelling sweat from disgusted men. Scientists say these findings demonstrate that humans can at least communicate some emotions by smell, and that could prove useful when large crowds of people are confronted with a dangerous situation.

“Our research suggests that emotional chemo-signals can be potential contributors to emotional contagion in situations involving dense crowds,” the authors wrote.

[NBC News]

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