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Neurotic Scents Can Reveal Individual’s Personality

12/06/2021 08:21 AM ET

Neurotic Scents - Our bodies scents give away if we are extroverted, neurotic and dominant.

A new study suggests that we can get a hint of an individual’s personality through his or her scent alone.

Participants in the study assessed, with some degree of accuracy, how outgoing, anxious or dominant people were after smelling the scents of their clothes. The study is the first to test whether personality traits can be discerned through body odor.

While the match-up between responses by the judges and the judged were not perfect, they do suggest that, when forming a first impression, we take into account a person’s smell, as well as visual and audible cues to their personality traits, the researchers said.

We not only express ourselves through our looks, “we also express ourselves with how we smell,” said study researcher Agnieszka Sorokowska, a doctoral candidate at the University of Wroclaw, in Poland.

Personality scents

Sorokowska and colleagues asked 30 men and 30 women to don white cotton t-shirts for three consecutive nights. Participants could not use fragrances, deodorants or soaps, and could not smoke or drink or eat odorous foods during the study. Participants also took a personality test.

Shirts from the “odor donors” were collected and rated by 100 men and 100 women. Raters were asked to smell the shirts (placed in non-transparent plastic bags) and evaluate five personality traits of the donors, on a scale of one to 10. Each rater assessed six shirts, and each shirt was assessed by 20 raters.

The judges’ ratings matched up with the self-assessments of the donors for three personality traits: extroversion (the tendency to be outgoing and sociable) neuroticism (the tendency to feel anxious and moody) and dominance (the urge to be a leader).

Judgments of dominance were most accurate in the case where an individual rater was assessing the odor of someone who was the opposite sex, suggesting such judgments are especially important when it comes to choosing a mate, the researchers said.

Odor and emotions

Extroversion, neuroticism and dominance are all traits that may, to some extent, be expressed physiologically, including through our emotions.

The findings are preliminary and more studies need to be done to confirm the results, Sorokowska said.

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