To sniff or not to sniff, that is the question.
If the mental image of an overflowing smelly laundry basket starts to raise your stress levels, fear not. Scientists have devised a way to put your partner’s worn items of clothing to good use.
New research has found women suffering from stress became calmer after sniffing a used T-shirt belonging to their partner. So much so that the aroma of one’s husband or boyfriend was found to be more calming than the smell of roses to women in secure relationships.
It was also found to be more calming than the smell of a t-shirt worn by the participant, or the neutral odour of a freshly laundered t-shirt.
The science behind sniffing.
A group of 34 women were tested in the experiment which was carried out at Stockholm University. All were asked to rate how secure they felt in their relationships.
To recreate feelings of stress in the laboratory, the women were subjected to repeated mild electric shocks.
They were then asked to rate their level of discomfort on a scale of one to 10. Their physical reaction was also tested, by electrodes on their skin which measured their stress response.
The participants were then instructed to sniff their partner’s clothes to detect if this resulted in a lowering of stress levels which it did. The authors, writing in the journal Physiology Behavior, stated: ‘To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that the odor of one’s adult romantic partner helps to alleviate psychophysiological responses to stress, specifically among relatively secure adults.
When sniffing is counter-productive to stress levels.
The study did highlight one peculiar finding. The effect only worked in cases where the women were happy in their relationships. Among those whose partnerships were not ‘secure’, it increased the woman’s stress, rather than comforted them. So there you have it ladies. Choose wisely when and when not to take a sniff!