People who have similar body odours are more likely to make friends with each other, a study has shown.
It’s already known that mammals such as dogs sniff each other to decide who is friend or foe.
Now, researchers in Israel have found that humans do the same, although on a more ‘covert’ and subconscious level.
By smelling clothes with a device called an ‘eNose’, the experts found people who have similar body odours are more likely to make friends with each other.
These new results suggest that the sense of smell may play a larger role in human social interactions than previously thought.
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, we 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 (friends who had ‘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.
In the first set of experiments, they used a device known as an electronic nose or eNose, which assessed the chemical signatures of each pair’s odours on their t-shirts.
Their eNose was fitted with 10 metal oxide sensors, each coated with a different material to detect specific chemicals.
In the second experiment, they asked other volunteers to smell the two groups of body odour samples in order to assess similarities measured by human perception.