Humans can influence the emotions of others through the smell of their sweat

People communicate positive emotions like happiness through the smell of their sweat suggest researchers led by Gün Semin at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. They showed that we produce chemical compounds – chemosignals – that can be detected by other people in our environment.

“This suggests that somebody who is happy will infuse others in their vicinity with happiness. In a way, happiness sweat is somewhat like smiling – it is infectious,” explains Gün.

This study builds on previous research that showed that negative emotions such as fear and disgust are communicated in this way. These signals would be expected to produce negative moods in others in that environment.

The researchers also found that women who were exposed to happy sweat showed a more global focus in perceptual processing tasks, confirming results from previous studies. This suggests that people might work more effectively when they are in a happy environment.