People are attracted to the body odor of others with similar political beliefs.

By Seriously Science | September 18, 2014 11:05 am
Photo: flickr/Richard foster

Photo: flickr/Richard foster

Previous studies have shown that Democrats and Republicans can be differentiated from their faces. Well, according to a new study, this also applies to their smells. Researchers from Brown, Harvard and Pennsylvania State Universities tested whether people could tell the difference between the odor of a staunch liberal and a conservative. Turns out the subjects were more attracted to the smells of people with similar political beliefs, some to a surprising extent:  “In one particularly illustrative case, a participant asked the experimenter if she could take one of the vials home with her because she thought it was “the best perfume I ever smelled”; the vial was from a male who shared an ideology similar to the evaluator. She was preceded with another respondent with an ideology opposite to the person who provided the exact same sample; this participant reported that the vial had “gone rancid” and suggested it needed to be replaced.” While the mechanism of this phenomenon remains unclear, one thing is certain: politicians stink.

Assortative Mating on Ideology Could Operate Through Olfactory Cues

“Mates appear to assort on political attitudes more than any other social, behavioral, or physical trait, besides religion. Yet the process by which ideologically similar mates end up together remains ambiguous. Mates do not appear to consciously select one another based on ideology, nor does similarity result from convergence. Recently, several lines of inquiry have converged on the finding that olfactory processes have an important role in both political ideology and mate selection. Here we integrate extant studies of attraction, ideology, and olfaction and explore the possibility that assortation on political attitudes may result, in part, from greater attraction to the scent of those with shared ideology. We conduct a study in which individuals evaluated the body odor of unknown others, observing that individuals are more attracted to their ideological concomitants.”

Related content:
NCBI ROFL: Republican women look more feminine than Democrats.
NCBI ROFL: Election week flashback: Democrats and Republicans can be differentiated from their faces.
NCBI ROFL: What does a generic Mormon look like? The answer probably won’t surprise you…

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