Study shows people can guess personality via body odor

December 5, 2011 by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress report

(Medical Xpress) -- An interesting study conducted by Polish researchers Agnieszka Sorokowska, Piotr Sorokowski and Andrzej Szmajke, of the University of Wroclaw, has found that people are able to guess a person’s type of personality to a reasonable extent, simply by smelling them, or their clothes. The team did some testing with volunteers, as they describe in their study published in the European Journal of Personality, and found that people could guess another’s personality through odors at least as well as they could when shown videos of people in action.

To find out just how well people can gauge types through smelling odors given off by other people’s bodies, the team asked 60 people, half men and half women to wear plain white t-shirts while they slept, for three nights in a row. Each was asked to not use perfumes, soap or deodorants and to not smoke or eat or drink things that affect , such as onions or garlic. Each of the participants were also given personality tests before the t-shirt wearing part of the study began, to asses personality types.

At the end of the three days, the t-shirts were all collected and put into non-clear, labeled plastic bags. Then, two hundred volunteers, half men and half women, were enlisted to sniff the bags and offer their opinions on personality type based on nothing but the odors wafting from the bags. Each volunteer sniffed just six bags to avoid becoming inured presumably and each bag was sniffed by twenty sniffers to get a large enough sample to avoid coincidence.

After all was said and done, those doing the sniffing were able to guess whether the person who had emitted the odor was anxious, outgoing or dominant at least as well as people in a previous study had been able to do watching videos of people interacting with others. Also interesting was that the sniffers were particularly adept at picking up dominate personality types from odors that came from someone of the opposite gender.

While clearly not at a hundred percent, the researchers indicate the study shows that there is something going on regarding how much a person sweats and under what conditions as well as a correlation between the components in sweat and personality traits and that other people are able to pick up on those differences when in their vicinity. Thus, the results are actually two-fold. The first is that people apparently give off personality clues when sweating, and second, that people are able to not only smell the differences in people, but make judgments about them based on what they smell.

Explore further: Personality affects how likely we are to take our medication

More information: Does Personality Smell? Accuracy of Personality Assessments Based on Body Odour, Article first published online: 12 OCT 2011. DOI: 10.1002/per.848

Abstract
People are able to assess some personality traits of others based on videotaped behaviour, short interaction or a photograph. In our study, we investigated the relationship between body odour and the Big Five personality dimensions and dominance. Sixty odour samples were assessed by 20 raters each. The main finding of the presented study is that for a few personality traits, the correlation between self-assessed personality of odour donors and judgments based on their body odour was above chance level. The correlations were strongest for extraversion (.36), neuroticism (.34) and dominance (.29). Further analyses showed that self–other agreement in assessments of neuroticism slightly differed between sexes and that the ratings of dominance were particularly accurate for assessments of the opposite sex.

Related Stories

Personality affects how likely we are to take our medication

May 10, 2011
The results of a unique study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, show that personality has an impact on how likely people are to take their medication. This is the first major study of its kind to be published in ...

People know when first impressions are accurate

April 15, 2011
First impressions are important, and they usually contain a healthy dose both of accuracy and misperception. But do people know when their first impressions are correct? They do reasonably well, according to a study in the ...

Does our personality affect our level of attractiveness?

May 27, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Part of what determines how much success you will have in the dating world is whether you have a good sense of whether people find you attractive. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal ...

For happiness, remember the good times, forget the regrets

June 22, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- People who look at the past through rose-tinted glasses are happier than those who focus on regrets about the past, according to new research conducted by Assistant Professor of Psychology Ryan Howell.

Recommended for you

When it comes to our brains, there's no such thing as normal

February 20, 2018
There's nothing wrong with being a little weird. Because we think of psychological disorders on a continuum, we may worry when our own ways of thinking and behaving don't match up with our idealized notion of health. But ...

Jymmin: How a combination of exercise and music helps us feel less pain

February 20, 2018
Pain is essential for survival. However, it could also slow the progress of rehabilitation, or in its chronic form could become a distinct disorder. How strongly we feel it, among other factors, depends on our individual ...

College roommates underestimate each other's distress, new psychology research shows

February 19, 2018
College roommates are sensitive to their roommates' distress but tend to underestimate the level of distress being experienced by others, finds a newly published study from New York University psychology researchers.

New approaches in neuroscience show it's not all in your head

February 16, 2018
Our own unique experiences shape how we view the world and respond to the events in our lives. But experience is highly subjective. What's distressing or joyful to one person may be very different to another.

Link between hallucinations and dopamine not such a mystery, finds study

February 16, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) found that people with schizophrenia who experience auditory hallucinations tend to hear what they expect, ...

People find comfort listening to the same songs over and over, study finds

February 16, 2018
With the frequency that some people play their favorite song, it's a good thing vinyl records aren't used often because they might wear out.

7 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

that_guy
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
my gf says that I never have any body odor. Does that mean i have no personality?
350
3 / 5 (2) Dec 05, 2011
Just means your gf lies :p
Youd do the same if she asked if she looked fat...
FrankHerbert
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 05, 2011
Looks like mustering all the confidence in the world won't do any good when people can smell your anxiety.

Our world just isn't meant for anxious people. What a cruel cycle.
that_guy
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
Just means your gf lies :p
Youd do the same if she asked if she looked fat...

Thank god she lost weight, cuz I was getting tired of calling her fat.
kochevnik
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
My gfs smell like wild berries. What does that mean?
Callippo
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
People can sniff out the tracks of prey... http://www.nature...-18.html
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
my gf says that I never have any body odor. Does that mean i have no personality?


lol, don't know about that, but I do know that something about this research doesn't smell right.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.