The new study lends some scientific backing to anyone who’s ever worn their partner’s shirt or slept on their side of the bed when they weren’t around. Many girls like to take clothes from their boyfriend and enjoy the smell. Well, if you’re not a fan of wearing your man’s T-shirt, then you can just sniff it. And your actions won’t seem strange since the smell of your partner is an excellent anti-stress tool. Yes, the ability to feel less stressed was always right at your fingertips.
We at PoopBite are in a hurry to share with you the unexpected and interesting results of this study. And after reading this you can take your boyfriend’s favorite sweatshirt without any doubts. You will even be able to justify it with science.
Conducting an experiment
The study involved 96 women who sniffed shirts. The men were given them in advance and asked to wear them for 24 hours without using deodorants, perfumes, or any other products that had a smell. They were also asked to not to eat anything that could change their smell and do not smoke.
There were 3 types of shirts: one worn by her partner, one worn by another person, and a neutral, unworn shirt. And each woman was blindly given and sniffed only one of them. Then they went through a test that increased their stress. Namely, a mock job interview and a mental task. They also gave saliva samples to measure the level of cortisol (a stress hormone) in their bodies and they were asked questions about how stressed they felt.
Recognition led to better results.
As a result, it turned out that the women who sniffed their partner’s shirt experienced less stress both before and after the test than those who sniffed a stranger’s shirt. Interestingly, despite the increased cortisol in those who got the stranger’s shirt, the women themselves didn’t say that they felt stressed.
At the same time, those who recognized their partner’s smell were even less stressed. This gave researchers a reason to think that the effect from the smell of your boyfriend, even in his absence, will be stronger if you know that the clothes or things belong to him.
This may happen due to an evolutionary process. People used to be afraid of strangers, especially males. And a stranger’s smell may cause the level of cortisol to become higher and a “fight-or-flight” reaction, even if we aren’t aware of it.
Does it work both ways?
It’s assumed that women have a better smell and are more affected by odors. And at the moment, no studies have been conducted on whether the smell of a girlfriend can calm a guy down. But there is a reason to think this could be true. Yes, you will probably never see a guy wearing a top or pullover that belongs to his girlfriend. However, many men like to sniff their girls’ hair and sleep on their half of the bed when they are away.
The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found women feel calmer after being exposed to their male partner’s scent. Conversely, being exposed to a stranger’s scent had the opposite effect and raised levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
“Many people wear their partner’s shirt or sleep on their partner’s side of the bed when their partner is away, but may not realize why they engage in these behaviors,” said Marlise Hofer, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in the UBC department of psychology. “Our findings suggest that a partner’s scent alone, even without their physical presence, can be a powerful tool to help reduce stress.”
For the study, the researchers recruited 96 opposite-sex couples. Men were given a clean T-shirt to wear for 24 hours and were told to refrain from using deodorant and scented body products, smoking and eating certain foods that could affect their scent. The T-shirts were then frozen to preserve the scent.
The women were randomly assigned to smell a T-shirt that was either unworn or had been worn by their partner or a stranger. They were not told which one they had been given. The women underwent a stress test that involved a mock job interview and a mental math task, and also answered questions about their stress levels and provided saliva samples used to measure their cortisol levels.
The researchers asked women to act as the “smellers” because they tend to have a better sense of smell than men.
They found that women who had smelled their partner’s shirt felt less stressed both before and after the stress test. Those who both smelled their partner’s shirt and also correctly identified the scent also had lower levels of cortisol, suggesting that the stress-reducing benefits of a partner’s scent are strongest when women know what they’re smelling.
Meanwhile, women who had smelled a stranger’s scent had higher cortisol levels throughout the stress test.
The authors speculate that evolutionary factors could influence why the stranger’s scent affected cortisol levels.
“From a young age, humans fear strangers, especially strange males, so it is possible that a strange male scent triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response that leads to elevated cortisol,” said Hofer. “This could happen without us being fully aware of it.”
Frances Chen, the study’s senior author and assistant professor in the UBC department of psychology, said the findings could have practical implications to help people cope with stressful situations when they’re away from loved ones.
“With globalization, people are increasingly traveling for work and moving to new cities,” said Chen. “Our research suggests that something as simple as taking an article of clothing that was worn by your loved one could help lower stress levels when you’re far from home.”
Do you like to sniff the clothes of your partner? Had you ever felt more calm or peaceful after smelling your partner? Describe your experience and thoughts about your partner’s smell in the comments.