22 January, 2009

Love changes your sense of smell

They say that love is blind, and now, new research shows that it also seems to make things smell differently too.

According to Johan Lundström and Marilyn Jones-Gotman of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, women who are madly in love have difficulty recognising the body odours of male friends, but their ability to distinguish their partner’s smell is unaffected.

The researchers asked twenty young women with boyfriends to fill in a Passionate Love Scale questionnaire, in order to rate how deeply in love they were. They also persuaded the women’s partners and friends of both sexes to sleep for seven nights in a cotton T-shirt with pads sewn into the underarms, to soak up their sweat.

Each woman was then asked to select lover’s or a friend’s T-shirt from three garments, two of which had been worn by strangers. The more deeply in love a woman was, the less well she did at distinguishing a male friend’s odour from those of strangers.

The results showed that the women’s scores on the Passionate Love Scale made no difference to their ability to recognise a lover’s shirt, or even one worn by a female friend. However, those who were more deeply in love were worse at distinguishing a male friend’s odour from those of strangers.

This suggests a lover doesn’t necessarily pay more attention to her partner, and supports a theory of romantic attraction known as “Deflection“, which argues that being in love with someone involves a reduction in the amount of attention given to other potential suitors. [source]

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