Can we smell emotions?

   Vanessa Van Edwards launched this idea that frankly shocked me a little. She talked about an experiment made to see if sweat smells different based on what triggers it. Apparently, the sweat released after running on a treadmill smells different from the sweat released before jumping from a plane. A significant proportion of the “smellers” could identify which “smellee” have done which activity.

   Because I found this to be very interesting, I made some research on this and it seems that idea has been tested before. In 2010, researchers from Rice University presented a study about the fact that people in close romantic relationships can smell emotions like happiness, fear and sexual arousal in each other (Science News). Another study has been done in 2012 by some researchers from Utrecht University. They found that people can smell emotions like fear and disgust through the chemicals our bodies release (Psychological Science).

   While growing up, my mother used to tell me that I shouldn’t be afraid of dogs that bark at me because they can smell fear. I always thought this is bullsh*t, but I was wrong. So if we can smell other people’s emotions, it’s obvious for animals to be able to smell our emotions because their smell is much more evolved than ours. The condition would be for our emotions to release the same chemicals.

   No, we shouldn’t start smelling each other from now on like dogs do, but it’s an interesting discovery. It’s a result of our mindset, which can influence our daily lives. It’s another proof of how important our thoughts are and how real it can get.

   What do you think about these results? How impactful do you think this idea can be in our lives?

40 thoughts on “Can we smell emotions?

  1. How synchronistic! My granddaughter and I were just talking this evening about something similar. I really believe in this. I was also talking with my daughter about the things we ingest having an effect on how we smell. Your post makes me wonder if that can be combined. Does the fact that we ingest different things when we’re feeling different emotions add to the chemical changes in our body when we feel them and intensify the smell?

    1. I think they do combine, but on how, it’s a different matter. I believe that what we eat gives some “flavour” to how our emotions smell, not necessarily to what emotion it is smelled. Maybe some ingredients are strong enough to mask those smelled emotions? Maybe we have different “nose parts” that are designed to smell the emotions compared to the ones that smell other things? I think that some deep diving is needed here.

  2. I have a terrible sense of smell. I wonder if there’s a difference in being able to smell such things and being able to identify that’s what we’re smelling?

    1. It probably is a difference because it’s a hormonal thing. We’re probably not aware of when we smell what because most of the time we’re not even thinking about it (at least, when it’s about emotions).

  3. I have an extremely oversensitive sense of smell. I’m also extremely oversensitive to other people’s emotions and moods. Maybe there’s a connection there.

    I guess our smell is another form of body language then? One of the many non-verbal cues we unintentionally use to communicate with other people.

    So maybe, if we want to communicate better with people, we should stop covering natural smells with perfume and body spray?

    1. You’ve put an interesting insight here. I don’t know if it’s another for of body language, but it is a form of communication. It would be a more authentic part of our communication, but I don’t know what to say if it makes it better because people are people and they can judge others based on how they smell (from an emotional point of view). Would it be better? Would it be worse? I don’t know what to say…

      1. I didn’t think about that…I guess it would be another way for people to judge other people. A new kind of prejudice. Great article, made me think!

  4. I agree with this because I sweat during stressful moments and when I’m around people I don’t like. Certainly, I smell different, perhaps stronger. It makes sense.

  5. This is really interesting because I feel like my cats always seem to pick up on mood changes. For example if a family member is ill or lying down, they often come and lie with us for support and this makes total sense if they can smell how we’re feeling. It actually makes it so adorable.

  6. Many thrillers contain the sentence
    “The smell of fear ” to create an atmosphere of suspense.

    The way we smell is determined by the composition of our sweat.
    Sweat is an excretion by the body.
    What we eat can affect how we smell because some breakdown products from our food are excreted in sweat.

    Smell could identify emotions because some emotions, like fear, cause increased sweating.

    As for animals like dogs being able to sense our emotional state , I think this has to do with all their senses being more acute, not just smell.

    1. I agree with you! There are also our body language that signals our emotions which can be easier picked up by animals since all their senses are more acute.

  7. You might be surprised but as a high sensitive person I recognized that smell term before but did not pay attention to it a lot because I tried to hide from the bad smell of others;-). The smell of anger is different to the smell of fear… but I always thought it’s my selective perception because my senses are so intense. Great content! Thanks for sharing that knowledge.

    1. Thank you for reading! I guess there are different smells because there are different quantities of chemicals released in our bodies so we sense different emotions.

  8. Kids have a much better sense of smell and use it all be it subconsciously, when we are working with the horses we wear little or no deodorants and perfumes

  9. I studied pheromones for fun “once upon a time…” There is so much more to this it is a very interesting topic! It goes into attraction, reaction, many different topics! Great post! I may look back into it and see what they have discovered since I last looked into it… You’ve piqued my interest again, haha.

  10. This is so interesting and thought provoking! I’m really sensitive to smells as well as emotions, so I’m intrigued to research more about this! Thank you for sharing 😊🙌🏻

  11. Hi DM, I just read your posts for the first time. It is interesting that you talk about many of the things I am thinking of myself. This post caught my eye because I run on a treadmill and have jumped out of a plane. My emotions seem to be a train wreck sometimes. I am sure that if it isn’t the smell of emotions it is the energy the emotions are producing. Anyway it is interesting to read your thoughts and I will be back to see more. Maybe I can get a grip on my “emotional foolishness”. Thanks for the post.

    1. Hi Jonathan! Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts! I hope that more of my posts can catch your eye! I’m looking forward for more of your insights! 🙂

  12. I find this particularly interesting since scent is one of the strongest memory triggers. And as an aside, we have different types of tears, as well. I wonder if the chemical compounds are similar…

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