According to the latest scientific smell-study, you can actually smell crazy (neurotically crazy, that is) people. You — and we mean the universal you, not you in particular, don’t be neurotic — can smell the personalities of all sorts of people, from outgoing to anxious to dominant. The study elicited 30 men and 30 women to wear white cotton T-shirts three nights in a row, abstaining from using soap, deodorant, or perfume, and from drinking, smoking, or eating “oderous foods” during that period. They also took personality tests.
In a kind of hilarious aspect of the experiment, after all that, 100 men and 100 women were enticed to smell the shirts and guess the personality traits of the smelly shirt-wearers.
Now, while the raters’ guesses didn’t match up with the self-assessments of the smell subjects absolutely perfectly, they did match up pretty well — about as well as predicting personality traits based on watching a video, in another study — for extroversion, neuroticism, and dominance. The most accurate estimates of dominance involved smelling someone of the opposite sex, underscoring, as other experiments have, a link between sense of smell and choosing a mate.
The Daily News wins for creepiest stock photo depiction of this phenomenon.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 5, 2011