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

Telkwa Mayor ‘disappointed’ by Senior Society’s letter

Also at Telkwa council, air monitor grant turned down because of Northern Health restrictions.

NWCC students can now complete business degrees in the U.S.

Northwest Community College finalizes a transfer agreement with Park University in Missouri.

More public students graduated on time

Students with special needs are also seeing an increase in graduates.

Doug Donaldson meets with Friends of Seven Sisters on logging plan

Environmental group discussed concerns with minister, who committed sending forest district manger.

PHOTOS: Smithers Figure Skating Club hosts a showcase

All of the club’s pre-star and starksaters participated in Showcase ahead of regional championships.

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

VIDEO: Explorers uncover Canada’s deepest cave in Fernie

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, was confirmed to have broken the record on New Year’s Day

Players sought for National Aboriginal Hockey Championships

ISPARC calls for bantam/midget players to register for selection camp in Kamloops

New funding opens for industry innovation

Northern Development Initiative Trust opened new funds, focused on areas impacted by the pine beetle

Most Read