Don't come home smelly! That is why body odor affects men and women completely differently

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Don't come home smelly! That is why body odor affects men and women completely differently
Don't come home smelly! That is why body odor affects men and women completely differently

Members of the two sexes typically react differently to the smell of sweat and body emissions. It's as if men are more trained in this regard, while women are not only more sensitive to this, but also have much more control over their own evaporation. Researchers may now have figured out why

According to the results of the latest study, reactions to body odor are not so different by chance. Not only their observation and speaking, but also the visceral feeling they evoke. Women will clearly be more aggressive as soon as they sense it, but in men this is counterbalanced by a blocking effect. And why? It all has to do with evolution and childbearing.

A woman who has given birth to a child experiences extreme vulnerability. We still feel this today, we can imagine the anxiety it must have caused when the women tried to get stronger by retreating into a cave while breastfeeding the baby. That fragile little being who could easily be taken away even by wild animals, let alone another, stranger. That is why women react to body odor with aggression, for them it is an ancient warning signal, they immediately start protecting their child from intruders. But what about fathers or childless men? Their aggression is more directed towards the offspring. However, according to the researchers, infants likely have a mechanism that increases female aggression while decreasing male aggression. This is how they maximize their chances of survival.

The special smell of the baby affects men and women differently
The special smell of the baby affects men and women differently

What does baby smell?

Babies emit a certain substance called hexadecanal (HEX) through their heads. This signaling molecule also affects us without consciously feeling the smell. This is not only characteristic of humans, other animals also react violently to it - for example, a mother rabbit attacks and even kills her cubs if they are "contaminated" by the body odor of a foreign female.

The aggression level of the human test subjects participating in the study was continuously measured while smelling HEX. According to the results of the study, the activity of the brain area in the parietal lobe, which is mainly responsible for the perception and management of social signals, increased in both men and women. In men, however, the connection between this region and the brain network associated with aggression increased, i.e. they were much more able to keep themselves under control, while it decreased in women.

After discovering this, another investigation was conducted.127 people took part in a double-blind test - neither the participants nor the researchers knew who received HEX and who received a placebo. A computer game was then used to measure aggressive behavior. Each player competed with an algorithm, the goal was to destroy the enemy with a noisy explosion, the extent of which was controlled by the players. The more aggressively someone behaved, the louder the noise was, so the researchers were able to quantitatively determine the level of aggression experienced by men and women.

The results of the experiment are not clear

It is also worth considering the limitations of the research. It is a fact that the baby emits such a substance, but the extent of this and the brain processes of the two sexes react to it are not yet fully understood. Further investigations would be necessary, but for this the relationship between parenting and aggression, as well as brain areas and HEX, should be explored more deeply, which is quite difficult to measure in humans. However, we have learned that chemicals in body odor can trigger different aggressive reactions in people, to a different degree and direction depending on gender.

Chemistry in everyday life

Chemical signals exert much more power over our behavior than we want to ()admit. Whether we analyze the male-female relationship - we know the play of pheromones well during the dating process - or the parental roles or everyday life. According to a 2011 research, one of our personality traits can be determined based on our body odor. And babies can't speak yet, and their movement is limited, so according to researchers, at first they mainly communicate with us using chemical signals. One good example of this is that they release a substance that triggers dopamine production in parents, thus strengthening the feeling of happiness and motivation. We live our whole lives among chemical signals, and we understand more and more how.

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