Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Dr. William Carlson
Dr. Frederick Gault
Dr. Thelma Urbick
Dr. Robert Oswald
Humans may have ability to transmit, receive, and react to biological information from other humans through olfactory chemosensory communication. Two studies examined human (1) ability to differentiate physiologically, via olfaction, fresh stress produced sweat and (2) cognitive discrimination, through smell, of "aged" stress produced sweat. Four stress conditions were employed; (1) exercise, (2) relaxation, (3) sexual arousal, and (4) repulsion.
Experiment I. A male dyad participated--donor and recipient. Donor was prepared to collect his axillary secretion on gauze; following preparation donor was stressed. After stressing, the gauze which was presumed to contain a fresh non-odoriferous sweat, was removed, sandwiched between two surgical masks, and refrigerated. Within forty-five minutes the sample was placed over recipient's nose and mouth and his physiological responses were recorded on a polygraph. Recipient's polygraph record during sweat introduction was compared with: (a) Donor's record during the stress condition and (b) Recipient's baseline record. Results. Recipient's physiological responses altered when Donor's stress produced sweat was presented (e.g., relaxation sample produced muscle tension reduction, heart rate reduction, GSR increase, breathing becoming shallow and regular, and a skin temperature increase; erotic sample produced muscle tension increase, heart rate irregularity and increase, GRS decrease, respiration becoming deeper and slower, and a skin temperature decreasing; etc.) In all cases Recipient's physiological responses yielded a similar pattern as Donor's response pattern from the same stress condition. Conclusions. Findings suggest that humans have an ability to differentiate physiologically stress states via olfactory chemosensory communication in a form of "biological empathy."
Experiment II. A single subject provided the stress related axillary secretions. Each sample was collected on gauze. Following donor stressing, the sample was removed, placed in a container, and refrigerated for circa twelve hours; following "ageing," a group smelled the sample and filled out a forced choice questionnaire asking: (a) whether the container contained a sweat sample, (b) the gender of the donor, and (c) the stress condition for sweat sample production. Results. (a) 81.5% correctly identified sample as sweat; (b) 63.3% accurately identified gender; and (c) Ability to discriminate stress states was not determined. Conclusions. Results are consistent with current literature.
Perra, Robert Gray, "Physiological Differentiation and Cognitive Discrimination of an Olfactory Stimulus Produced under Stress" (1986). Dissertations. 2267.