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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2018 Dec;98:177-185. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.08.005. Epub 2018 Aug 7.

Beyond the west: Chemosignaling of emotions transcends ethno-cultural boundaries.

Author information

1
Department of Social, Health, & Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 1, 3584 CS, Utrecht, the Netherlands; Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania, 3930 Chestnut Street, 19104, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Electronic address: j.h.b.degroot@uu.nl.
2
Department of Social, Health, & Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 1, 3584 CS, Utrecht, the Netherlands; Department of Clinical Psychology, Leiden University, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK, Leiden, the Netherlands.
3
Unilever R&D, Olivier van Noortlaan 120, 3133 AT, Vlaardingen, the Netherlands.
4
Institute of Psychology, Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, CAS Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China; Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.
5
Department of Social, Health, & Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 1, 3584 CS, Utrecht, the Netherlands; Unilever R&D, Olivier van Noortlaan 120, 3133 AT, Vlaardingen, the Netherlands.

Abstract

Accumulating evidence has pointed to a human capacity to communicate emotions to others via sweat. So far, these studies have relied exclusively on Western Caucasian samples. Our aim was to test whether the chemosensory communication of emotions extended beyond ethno-cultural boundaries, from Western Caucasians (N = 48) to East Asians (N = 48). To test this, we used well-validated materials and procedures, a double-blind design, a pre-registered analysis plan, and a combination of facial electromyography (EMG) and continuous flash suppression techniques to measure unconscious emotions. Our results show that East Asian (and Western Caucasian) female receivers exposed to the sweat (body odor) of fearful, happy, and neutral Western Caucasian male senders emulate these respective states based on body odors, outside of awareness. More specifically, East Asian (and Western Caucasian) receivers demonstrated significantly different patterns of facial muscle activity when being exposed to fear odor, happy odor, and neutral odor. Furthermore, fear odor decreased the suppression time of all faces on an interocular suppression task (IST), indicating subconscious vigilance, whereas happy odor increased the detection speed of happy faces. These combined findings suggest that the ability to perceive emotional signals from body odor may be a universal phenomenon.

KEYWORDS:

Apocrine sweat; Emotions; Facial EMG; Human olfaction; Interocular suppression; Pre-Registered

PMID:
30193224
DOI:
10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.08.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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