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A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology says that smelling your partner’s scent can reduce stress. This new partner scent study is great news for anyone who enjoys sniffing their partner’s clothes. (And you thought it was just for being naughty.)
Details of the partner scent study
Researchers from the University of British Columbia studied 96 opposite-sex couples. They had the men wear a clean t-shirt for 24 hours and told them not to wear deodorant, cologne or any other scented body products. They were also forbidden from smoking or eating strongly odored foods that might change their scent. After 24 hours, researchers froze the shirts to retain their scent.
The female partners then smelled a t-shirt that was either clean, one had been worn by their partner or one had been worn by a stranger — they weren’t notified which kind of shirt they’d been given. Next, the women were put in stressful situations like mock job interviews or exams involving difficult mental math.
Afterwards, scientists questioned the women about their stress levels and took a saliva sample from them to measure their cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that increases in the body whenever stress is present.
Scientists found that women who had smelled their partner’s shirts had lower stress levels than the women who had smelled clean shirts or ones worn by other men. Researchers also found that women who smelled stranger’s shirts actually reported higher stress levels overall.
Researchers assume their findings results from evolutionary bonding habits: Scent is a powerful way of sensory bonding, so it makes sense that a romantic partner’s scent would put someone at ease while a stranger’s scent might make someone feel apprehensive.
Researchers also say they had men wear the shirts because they tend to produce more body odor and had women smell them because they generally have a better sense of smell.
Considering that previous studies have found similarities between the brains of straight women and gay men, it’s entirely possible that gay and bi men might also feel more relaxed after sniffing their partner’s scent.
Featured image by tankist276 via iStock