The smell – and clothes – of a loved one could have a powerfully calming effect. So claims a study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which tested 96 women, who were asked to randomly smell one of three scents – a male partner’s, a stranger’s or a neutral scent. Those who caught a whiff of their partner tended to experience a reduction in stress hormones, while those forced to sniff a stranger experienced the opposite. The study suggested that sniffing a partner’s used clothing had a calming effect.
Does this work for men, too? The psychotherapist and psychologist Peter Klein says not so much: “You often hear of a woman wearing partner’s T-shirt, but you rarely hear of a man wearing his girlfriend’s T-shirt! Research suggests women have a better developed sense of smell and men are more visually stimulated, so men would be more likely to experience stress reduction through seeing their partner’s clothing.”
He adds: “How close a woman feels towards her male partner – how much oxytocin she experiences when she’s with them or how happy she is in the relationship – will also affect how comforting she finds smelling the clothing.”
What makes you happy makes you happy.