Study: Liberals and Conservatives Sniff Out Like-Minded Mates by Body Odor

Gail Sullivan, Washington Post, September 16, 2014

Conservatives and liberals do not smell the same to potential mates. According to a study published this month in the American Journal of Political Science, people can literally sniff out ideology–and this may explain why so many couples share political beliefs. Or, as the study’s title says, “Assortative Mating on Ideology Could Operate Through Olfactory Cues.”

Researchers led by Brown University political scientist Rose McDermott found that, to a small but significant degree, people prefer the body odor of those who vote as they do.

Previous studies showed long-term mates are more similar when it comes to politics than anything else besides religion. {snip}

To test the link between smell and party affiliation, researchers rounded up 146 people aged 18 to 40 from “a large city in the northeast United States.” They used a seven-point scale to determine where they fell on the political spectrum. They sent 21 of these–10 liberals and 11 conservatives–home with fragrance-free soap and shampoo and a gauze pad taped to their armpit. {snip}

They returned the stinky armpit pads 24 hours later. Then 125 participants sniffed the stinky pads, taking a break between whiffs to cleanse their nasal palate with the aroma of peppermint oil. The sniffers, who never saw the people whose smells they were evaluating, then rated the attractiveness of each armpit sample on a 1 to 5 scale.

The subjects found the smell of those more ideologically similar to themselves more attractive than those with opposing views.

“It appears nature stacks the deck to make politically similar partners more attractive to each other in unconscious ways,” the researchers wrote.

Evolution might explain it. “Parental similarity in values increases the likelihood that such individuals may be able to say together long enough to raise their children successfully into adulthood,” the researchers wrote.



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  • MekongDelta69

    And yet again – another idiotic and useless ‘study'[sic] paid for by OUR tax dollars.

    • 1stworlder

      Yea didn’t anyone tell them that if the leftists took showers they would smell like us.

  • JackKrak

    Uh, well, there are, um, certain people who have a distinct smell and I can tell you with absolute certainty that they’re not on the same political team I’m on.

    Just saying.

    • 1stworlder

      I have always wondered if they took regular showers would they still be noticeable.

      • Guest

        I knew a black guy who called it “the smell of Africa” and he said that three showers a day could not wash it off. I was surprised that he was even aware of the odor.

    • [Guest]

      If researchers went to “a large city in the northeast United States,” would they be likely to encounter a significant number of people who have bad politics and that distinct smell?

  • dd121

    Something like 60 or 70 years ago somebody tried to prove that negro sweat could be identified. I guess.

    • ElComadreja

      Have you ever smelled a ripe one? A distinctly different odor from Caucasians.

  • I bet race was more of a factor here than any of these researchers care to admit. This does not say that the study subject were controlled for race. That said, I think that a lot of the “liberals” were blacks or some other variety of non-white, ergo the “conservatives” and “liberals” smell differently because whites and non-whites smell differently.

    • Robert Binion

      Yes, it would help to know if the control sample was taken on the Upper West Side or Newark. Actually, no two people smell exactly alike. Maybe, the Lord made it that way so that sagacious hounds could find children lost.

    • ElComadreja

      Ah. The truth no one dares speak of anymore. Those white athletes that have to put up with the stench of sweaty negroes earn every penny.

  • Alexandra1973

    I myself can’t stand unwashed hippies.

    • Ike Eichenberg

      I can’t stand ’em even after a good hosing.

  • Stiv44

    I must have a neutral scent because I don’t consider myself either precisely liberal or conservative.

  • LHathaway

    “Evolution might explain it”

    I’m sorry, I had to laugh. I’m also sorry it took me half a second to laugh. Half a second?Sounds like another important study.

  • This study has an odor to it. Husbands and wives tend to think alike as a form of bonding, not due to some alleged small, elusive smell factor. If I believed this study, then white men married to Negro women would smell alike? White women married to Negro men smell alike? I think not.

    • MBlanc46

      According to Hatemi and McDermott (Man Is by Nature a Political Animal: Evolution, Biology, and Politics) the heritability of political attitudes is not 100%, it’s about 50%.

  • Samuel Hathaway

    Thomas Jefferson once wrote about how differently blacks smell. He concluded that Negros secrete more by the kidneys which gives them a disagreeable odor.

  • Like Liberians, I seldom bathe – conventional bathing habits are so jejune.
    Soap damages the natural emollients in my skin.
    My African-American husband thinks it’s funny how we smell alike. LOL

    • Ringo Lennon

      You might get a bad rash if you don’t bathe.

    • Samuel Hathaway

      An African-American husband? You’re profile says you’re a gay, born-again Muslim, so how does the Afro-husband figure into things? In any event, I take you at your word that you seldom bathe… or do anything or believe anything conventional for that matter.

      You’re a hoot… and a scream to boot!

    • Ian Thomas

      amren has trolls now?

  • Ringo Lennon

    Negroes smell bad. P.U.

    • Samuel Hathaway

      Must be all that Afro-sheen

      • ElComadreja

        The chicken fat oozing out of every pore doesn’t help.

  • My high school girlfriend was a liberal Democrat, and I thought she smelled wonderful.

    • corvinus

      Women are more liberal than men anyway, so that may fuzz things up a bit.

  • Paleoconn

    How can blacks stink when you never see them break a sweat.

    • texasoysterman

      Negros sweat just cogitatin’.

  • TXCriollo

    So there saying conservatives smell worse because we work real jobs. What a waste of money this study is

    • MBlanc46

      No, they are not saying anything like that.

  • MBlanc46

    It’s research well worth pursuing. Those interested in pursuing the study of the heritability of political attitudes might read Hatemi and McDermott’s “Man Is by Nature a Political Animal: Evolution, Biology, and Politics (University of Chicago Press, 2011).

  • Fr. John+

    Yup. LIberals…. stink.