Can Your Personality Pass the Smell Test?

Photo by Dennis Finley


Move over Myers Briggs and make room for the nose. Medical Xpress reports that, according to a new study, people can often guess the personality of another person just by smelling them.

Researchers at the University of Wroclaw broke their subjects into two groups. Members of the first group were given personality tests, and then asked to wear the same t-shirts for three nights in a row while sleeping, all the while avoiding soaps or fragrances that would cover their natural scents. Afterward, the second group was asked to smell the shirts and guess the personality of the wearer. As it turns out, the nose is able to sniff out certain personality types–such as extroversion, nervousness, or dominance–about a third of the time.  Participants who did the smell test were at least as likely to be able guess personality traits as subjects in a previous study who made predictions after watching people interact on video. It gives new meaning to the old saw about keeping your nose out of other people’s business.

This study was published in the European Journal of Personality.

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Since 2005, Michael has been a librarian at National Geographic.