New Study Suggests Sniffing Someone’s Body Odor Could Ease Social Anxiety
Smelling other people’s sweat may help ease social anxiety, according to the latest study published by the Cambridge University Press.
Lead researcher Elisa Vigna said when people are under a specific “state of mind” and then sweat, the perspiration includes “chemo-signals” that convey their “emotional state.”
As a result, they elicit “corresponding responses” in those who smell it. Combined with mindfulness therapy, it may provide better results than those from therapy only.
How did the researchers test body odor with social anxiety?
The social anxiety study involved collecting sweat from respondents. Then, the researchers showed short movie clips to elicit specific emotions like happiness or fear.
Meanwhile, the patients were going through social anxiety treatment. Afterward, Vigna and her team collected sweat samples.
The researchers invited 48 women aged between 15 and 35 years old with social anxiety to participate in the story.
The researchers divided them into three groups, with 16 people each. Next, they underwent mindfulness therapy for social anxiety over two days.
The professionals exposed the respondents to different odors from the sweat samples. Meanwhile, they had a control group, which only had exposure to clean air.
As a result, Elisa Vigna said the women exposed to sweat from people who had been watching films responded better to therapy than the control group.
“We were a little surprised to find that the emotional state of the person producing the sweat didn’t differ in treatment outcomes….”
“…sweat produced while someone was happy had the same effect as someone who had been scared by a movie clip.”
“So there may be something about human chemo-signals in sweat generally which affects the response to treatment,” she added.
Vigna continued, “We found that individuals who undertook one treatment session of mindfulness therapy….”
“…together with being exposed to human body odors showed about 39% reduction in anxiety scores).”
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“For comparison, in the group receiving only mindfulness (i.e., the control group), we saw a 17% reduction in anxiety scores after one treatment session.”
However, Elisa Vigna emphasizes the need for more research. She said her team is conducting a similar study using “emotionally neutral” movies.
As a result, the researchers could confirm potential therapeutic benefits to further help people with Social Anxiety Disorder.