Humans can smell when other people are happy, researchers discover

Odours known as 'chemosignals' have previously been shown to communicate negative emotions like disgust and fear

Humans can tell when someone is happy by the way they smell, scientists have demonstrated for the first time.

Our bodies give off odours known as “chemosignals” that have previously been shown to communicate negative emotions like disgust and fear.

However the new research, by a team from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, found it was also used to spread happiness as if it was contagious, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The scientists took sweat from the armpits of people who watch films designed to make them happy, afraid or in a neutral state. They were then given to other people to smell while their facial muscles were monitored by an electromyograph.

“Exposure to sweat from happy senders elicited a happier facial expression than did sweat from fearful or neutral senders,” the team wrote in the journal Psychological Science.

“Our findings suggest that not only a negative state, but also a positive state (happiness) can be transferred by means of odours.

“Happiness benefits the individual on multiple levels, as it restores the damaging impact of negative emotions on the cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and immune systems, and broadens attention to inspire creative ideas.

“Humans are a social species with the capacity to share these positive effects, using not only modalities such as vision, hearing, and touch, but also - as this exploratory study indicates - the sense of smell.”

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