The Science Of Smell: Why You Need To Sniff Your Date From Now On

smelling date

It's only natural, right?

When I first read about the "sweaty t-shirt study," in which women were asked to smell the shirts of men after they'd been worn for two days to see which odor they liked best, I decided that’s how I wanted to fall in love. It might not seem very romantic, but the fact that every woman was most attracted to men who had "major histocompatibility complexes," different from their own so as to carry on the species, was fascinating to me. It seemed like a foolproof way to find the person with whom I was supposed to be. Granted, I never tried it, but I still think it would have weeded out a lot of heartbreak and wasted time, if I had.

In the same vein as the sweaty t-shirt study, comes new research that people prefer the odor of those who share the same political ideology. Now, instead of finding out halfway through dinner that your date plans on voting for Rick Santorum during the next presidential election, all you have to do is take a whiff, and voila! Awkward conversation avoided, because obviously smelling someone's armpit is far less weird.

The researchers at Brown University surveyed 146 people, between the ages of 18 and 40, about where their thoughts on politics fell, then each one was asked to place a piece of gauze under their arms and keep it there for 24 hours. Afterward, the samples were frozen for a week, then the participants of the study were asked to smell the gauze and rate the "attractiveness" of each sample from one to five. The findings, similar to that of the sweaty t-shirt study, were awesome.

As lead author Dr. Rose McDermott explains, "People could not predict the political ideology of others by smell if you asked them, but they differentially found the smell of those who aligned with them more attractive. So I believe smell conveys important information about long-term affinity in political ideology that becomes incorporated into a key component of subconscious attraction."

The sense of smell is extremely powerful, and is often at the helm of emotions and memories. Who hasn't smelled something and immediately been brought back to a place in time to which that smell is associated? Depending on the memory, it can either be a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s always an amazing thing, and goes to prove the old saying, "a nose knows."

While running around town asking people to wear t-shirts for two days or keep some gauze under their armpit for 24 hours may not be easy to pull off, what you can do is trust your sense of smell. If someone smells bad to us, there's a pretty strong likelihood that they're not for us, but if they smell great, even after the gym or not having bathed for a few days, then you know you just might have found your equally liberal soulmate, and you can finally get started on happily ever after. And isn't that what we all want? Mazel Tov!


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