The group therefore all had similar HLA genes. The researchers wanted to find out if women were sniffing out men with just-right HLA profiles.
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Their odor preferences were indeed linked to the partner having just the right kind of HLA. Other research in this area is mixed. Scientists can also expose lab animals to bodily secretions that would be far too unseemly to use in human studies. That means smell researchers are largely stuck with sweaty T-shirts, like the one I had just mailed off to a bunch of strangers including my future boyfriend, I hope.
She shows people horror films to collect fear sweat, comedies to collect happy sweat and erotica to gather sex sweat. People can smell these emotional nuances, she found, suggesting that sweat is important to our social lives. When couples sniffed sweat samples from their partner and from strangers, they were better at naming the emotion behind the sweat—happy, fearful or horny—when it came from their partner.
Humans can talk, after all. Another complicating factor is that humans very quickly imbue odors with meaning.
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Even though some would make me gag, I soon learned that others were actually appealing. Social networks of smell. And that appears to be far easier to measure. That vast variation suggests that each person smells the world slightly differently, says the researcher Sobel.
Could a smell-based fingerprint also predict the quality of a relationship? Couples that smell together, stay together. Sobel is determined to get as many people as possible to rate odors to improve his algorithm, so he decided to meet lovelorn masses in their natural habitat: In April, he launched SmellSpace. Instead, you scratch and sniff your way through a scent packet that Sobel sends you, trying to decipher the difference between wet dog and musk, to rate the spiciness levels of manure and garbage. Members are shown a list of similar smellers, who may be promising romantic candidates.
The website has a long way to go; right now, it has about 1, members, roughly 1, of whom live in Israel. One of these users, an Israeli who read about SmellSpace in an article posted on Facebook, pings me with a message in Hebrew. I respond in English, asking him what he thinks of the service so far.
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The T-shirts of my prospective lovers are stuffed into small numbered baggies. I unseal each of them, one at a time, and inhale deeply. The first is ripe with sweet, nauseating body odor so thick I nearly choke. The second smells like stale tobacco. Some swatches are spicy, while others are inoffensive, and even kind of nice.
I mark my six favorites on the Smell Dating website, and instantly, I have my matches. Only two sweaty T-shirt wearers also choose me. This kind of rejection feels worse than an unrequited photo swipe. The vast majority of smell daters sniffed me, and passed. But maybe my apparently narrow smell appeal meant that my matches were all the more special, I tell myself. Neither of my matches agree to meet me in person. The smell spell is broken. If you see a picture of a guest you find attractive holding your number, this is the greenlight to talk to them.
At the end of the party, a facebook album is created and all of the pictures are tagged - so if you missed your match at the party, you can still contact them.
Pheramor | Using Science to Find Love
Where did the idea come from? Artist Judith Prays finally admitted to herself that online dating wasn't working for her. Witty, self aware writers didn't seem to equate to great, lasting relationships.
Through experimenting she ended up on a date with someone who wouldn't ordinarily have made the cut online but IRL was a complete success. The mystery of how gaps in conversation could be trumped by olfactory delight, and the long term relationship that ensued, made her wonder - should we be dating based on smell?
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When did this start and how did it get to where it is today? Judith had the idea in summer and the first event was in Brooklyn in November in the Mr UX studio. After an article about the event went viral, the second event was in LA at Cinefamily coproduced by Mastadon Mesa. Scientific advisor, Charles J. Wysocki, helped verify and streamline the pheromone print process and now the events are taking place globally.
Wait, so what's a pheromone? Pheromones are the chemical triggers of sexual attraction in mammals.