Journal article

The Subtle Signaling Strength of Smells: A Masked Odor Enhances Interpersonal Trust.

Daan van Nieuwenburg, Jasper HB de Groot, Monique AM Smeets

Frontiers in Psychology | Published : 2019

Abstract

Most everyday smells, from lavender to body odors, are complex odorant mixtures that "host" particular compounds that guide (social) behavior and motivation (biomarkers). A key element of social behavior is interpersonal trust, and building on previous research showing that (i) lavender odor can enhance trust, and that (ii) certain compounds in body odor can reduce stress in mice and humans (called "social buffering"), we examined whether a grassy-smelling compound found in both body odors and lavender, hexanal, would enhance interpersonal trust. Notably, we applied odor masking to explore whether trust could be influenced subconsciously by masked (i.e., undetectable) hexanal. In Study 1 (be..

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