Study finds politics stinks -- literally

Story highlights

  • A new study shows that body odor could play a role in matching political ideologies
  • It finds that a person's scent could send signals about their political views
  • The study was published in the American Journal of Political Science
If you and your significant other share political views, it could be because you like each other's smell.
Results from a new study released Monday by the American Journal of Political Science show that body odor may play an initial role in the matching of individuals with similar attitudes on political ideology.
In the study, 125 participants rated the attractiveness of smells from strong liberals and strong conservatives, but the participants couldn't see the individuals and didn't know anything about their political views.
"People could not predict the political ideology of others by smell if you asked them, but they differentially found the smell of those who aligned with them more attractive," said Dr. Rose McDermott, lead author of the study. "So I believe smell conveys important information about long-term affinity in political ideology that becomes incorporated into a key component of subconscious attraction."
What does smell have to do with politics?
According to the study, smell helps individuals choose mates because the sense can signal possible social and biological behaviors, such as disease avoidance, disgust sensitivity, cheater detection and social cohesion.
"For example, greater disgust sensitivity, which is intimately interconnected with the neural substrates of smell, predicts more conservative positions, particularly around issues involving morality and sexual reproduction," the article notes.
Those who were doing the smelling took whiffs of small gauze pads that had been worn under the arms of 21 individuals for 24 hours.