Wednesday 17 September 2014


A recent study published in the American Journal of Political Science  – you know how I love to write about pointless studies that use the taxpayers dollars – of 146 people surveyed indicates that people are attracted to the smell of those with similar ideological beliefs (no, I’m not making this stuff up). So in short, if you’re a screaming liberal, that man next to you on the tube that smells utterly rank (to you), must be a gun-toting conservative.  I’m not sure however where the people who simply smell awful to everyone rank in this survey; I’m gathering they must be independents. Furthermore, as scientists have known, this affinity for another’s smell (and apparently political party) is a definitive signal in ‘signaling compatibility to potential mates.’ I’d like to see how they’re going to handle this one on online dating (please click here to smell my armpit!).

According to this survey, participants between the ages of 18-40 (dear god, I can’t even partake in surveys anymore) were asked to identify their political ideology on a seven point scale, from strongly liberal, to utter neo con (my words, not theirs). Then from this group, the scientist chose 21 individuals who were on one end of the scale or the other. They were then told to wash with fragrance free soap, wear a gauze pad under their arms for a day and were not allowed to smoke, drink or use deodorant.

A week later, 125 individuals who were also asked about their political beliefs, were then asked to rate the samples in terms of their attractiveness. These volunteers consistently found those that they agreed with politically more attractive, and those that scored on the opposite end of the spectrum less attractive. Obviously people could not predict someone’s political bent purely by the smell – that would be highly amusing, “um, yeah, you stink and I can’t believe you voted yes on Prop 8?!’ but they definitely found those that were of similar ideology to themselves to be more appealing and desirable.

In our house, smell has always been one of the more emphasised senses. When I am away from my husband and son, the first thing I miss is the smell of them (the good smells of course, then again, I find the King's bad morning breath oddly appealing. I won't bother explaining myself). In fact, I have been known to take a T-shirt of the King’s if I have to be away from him for a while and smell the heck out of it. As for my husband, he is obsessed with smell. You can’t walk two feet in our house without running into a diffuser. I’m actually not kidding, from the hallway to the kitchen, I counted six the other day. Yes, he’s a little obsessive.

I suppose it’s nice to know there is another confirmation that we humans are mere animals – in case there are still those of you that think otherwise. Soon enough, we’ll be walking up to one another, taking a big sniff and offering to buy each other a drink (or not)…or of course, running like hell in the other direction holding our noses.

Copyright © 2014 Anthea Anka - Delighted And Disturbed