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Human handshaking is a social pheromone signal
Human handshaking is a social pheromone signal
Published by datadragon
April 20th, 2018
Default Human handshaking is a social pheromone signal

Here, Frumin et al. first put on latex gloves and then shook hands with volunteers to collect samples of their odor. Chemical analysis of the gloves found that a handshake alone was sufficient to transfer the volunteers' odor. Therefore, when we shake hands with a stranger, it is possible that we may inadvertently smell the stranger's chemical signals. To address this possibility, Frumin et al. investigated how humans behave after shaking hands with a stranger.

Humans greet each other with handshakes, but the functional antecedents of this behavior remain unclear. To ask whether handshakes are used to sample conspecific social chemosignals, we covertly filmed 271 subjects within a structured greeting event either with or without a handshake. We found that humans often sniff their own hands, and selectively increase this behavior after handshake. After handshakes within gender, subjects increased sniffing of their own right shaking hand by more than 100%. In contrast, after handshakes across gender, subjects increased sniffing of their own left non-shaking hand by more than 100%. Tainting participants with unnoticed odors significantly altered the effects, thus verifying their olfactory nature. Thus, handshaking may functionally serve active yet subliminal social chemosignaling, which likely plays a large role in ongoing human behavior.

Animals often sniff each other as a form of greeting to communicate with each other through chemical signals in their body odors. However, in humans this form of behavior is considered taboo, especially between strangers.

Scientists argue that, in spite of our efforts to avoid being smelly, we may actually smell each other without being aware that we do so.
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