The Smell of Fear
Monday, August 21, 2006
by Dr. Deborah Serani

Did you know that there was a real reason your Mom always knew when you were in upset as a child?

According to the journal Chemical Senses, women can detect the smell of fear better than their male counterparts. This is due, in part, to women's hard-wiring in the brain. Being able to sense fear enables the female to protect her babies from danger or soothe them when they were fragile.

It is well documented that animals experiencing stress and fear produce chemical warning signals that are sensed by other animals ~ and now research shows us that humans distinguish between fear and other emotional "chemo-signals" based on the sense of smell.

Of the human senses, smell is perhaps the least appreciated. In fact, a poll demonstrated that the least valued sense people would be most willing to lose -- is smell.

Footnotes

[1] Synnott, A. (1994). Roses, coffee and lovers: The meanings of smell. In Compendium of Olfactory Research 1982-1994, pp. 117-128.