A study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found women feel calmer when they are exposed to their man’s scent.
New research has found that the smell of a partner’s shirt can lower stress levels. Isn’t that sweet? Researchers from the University of British Columbia recruited 96 opposite sex couples, giving the men a clean T-shirt to wear for 24 hours. the men were asked not to use any deodorant or scented body products, and weren’t allowed to smoke or eat certain foods that would affect their scent.
The T-shirts were then frozen after a day of wear, so the men’s scents wouldn’t fade away, and the women were then randomly given a T-shirt to sniff that was either unworn, worn by their partner, or worn by a stranger – but they weren’t told which T-shirt they’d received.
The women then had to go through a stress test, involving a mock job interview and a mental maths task, providing answers about their stress levels and saliva samples throughout so researchers could track how the participants were feeling.
Researchers found that cortisol – the hormone responsible for stress – was lower in those who smelled their partner’s T-shirt, both before and after the test. Those who had smelled their partner’s T-shirt also reported lower levels of stress than those who hadn’t.
The women who’d correctly identified the smell as their partner’s T-shirt had the lowest levels of cortisol, which suggests that the stress-reducing benefits of giving your partner a sniff are strongest when women know what they’re smelling.
Smelling a stranger’s T-shirt had the opposite effect – they had higher levels of cortisol throughout the test.
Researchers reckon that this is down to evolution. From a young age we’re taught to fear strangers, especially strange males, so it’s possible that the scent of a strange man triggers our fight or flight response.