Feeling stressed? New study says sniffing your partner’s shirt might help

Study found that women feel calmer after being exposed to their male partner’s scent

The scent of a romantic partner could be just what you need to help lower stress levels, a new University of British Columbia study has found.

The study, led by UBC graduate student Marlise Hofer, involved 96 opposite-sex couples.

The men were given a clean T-shirt to wear for 24 hours, and were told to refrain from using deodorant and scented body products, smoking and eating certain foods that could affect their scent. The T-shirts were then frozen to preserve the scent.

Meanwhile, the women were randomly assigned to smell a T-shirt that was either unworn, or had been worn by their partner or a stranger, but they were not told which one they had been given.

Each woman underwent a stress test that involved a mock job interview and a mental math task, and also answered questions about their stress levels and provided saliva samples used to measure their cortisol levels.

The study found that women feel calmer after being exposed to their male partner’s scent. Conversely, being exposed to a stranger’s scent had the opposite effect and raised levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

“Many people wear their partner’s shirt or sleep on their partner’s side of the bed when their partner is away, but may not realize why they engage in these behaviours,” Hofer said.

“Our findings suggest that a partner’s scent alone, even without their physical presence, can be a powerful tool to help reduce stress.”

Those leading the study, including co-authors Hanne Collins and Ashley Whillans, also say that evolutionary factors could influence why the stranger’s scent affected cortisol levels.

“From a young age, humans fear strangers, especially strange males, so it is possible that a strange male scent triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response that leads to elevated cortisol,” Hofer said. “This could happen without us being fully aware of it.”

Frances Chen, the study’s senior author and assistant professor in the UBC department of psychology, said the findings could have practical implications to help people cope with stressful situations when they’re away from loved ones.

“With globalization, people are increasingly traveling for work and moving to new cities,” Chen said. “Our research suggests that something as simple as taking an article of clothing that was worn by your loved one could help lower stress levels when you’re far from home.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Port Hardy Fire Rescue’s third quarterly report of 2018

PHFR had 13 practice nights and 11 other training events this quarter.

Port McNeill mayor and council sworn in to office

Port McNeill’s new mayor and council were officially sworn in to office… Continue reading

Vancouver Island brewery re-brands again after cryptic new logo failed

Victoria-based brewers said goodbye to confusing hexagon logo

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

VIDEO: Newcomer kids see first Canadian snowfall

Children arrived in Canada with their mother and two siblings last week from Eritrea

Calgary 2026 leader expects close vote in Winter Games plebiscite

Residents to choose in a non-binding vote on Tuesday whether they want city to bid on 2026 Olympics

Feds dropped ball with WWI anniversary tributes: historians

Wrote one historian: ‘Other than the Vimy Ridge celebration … I think they have done a very bad job’

Sides ‘far apart’ in Canada Post talks despite mediation, says union

The lack of a breakthrough means rotating strikes will resume Tuesday

Feds’ appeal of solitary confinement decision in B.C. to be heard

Judge ruled in January that indefinite such confinement is unconstitutional, causes permanent harm

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Nunavut urges new plan to deal with too many polar bears

Territory recommends a proposal that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking

Most Read