Sniffing Out New Friends: Similarity in Body-Odor Predicts the Quality of Same-Sex None-Romantic Dyadic Interactions


Most are familiar with the notion of socially “clicking” with someone, namely sensing an immediate bond that can lead to strong and often long-lasting friendships. The mechanisms underlying such rapid bonding remain unclear. Given that body-odor similarity is a critical cue for social interaction in non-human mammals, we tested the hypothesis that body-odor similarly contributes to bonding in same-sex non-romantic human dyads. We observed that objective ratings obtained with an electronic nose, and subjective ratings obtained from human smellers, converged to suggest that click-friends smell more similar to each other than random dyads. Remarkably, we then found that we could use the electronic nose to predict which strangers would later form better dyadic interactions. Thus, humans may literally sniff-out new friends based on similarities in body-odor.

May I please sniff you? It’s for compatibility, I promise…