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This smell calms men but makes women angry

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Do you think women don’t like you? Maybe you should keep your distance, as a substance produced by our bodies causes them to behave aggressively. At least, that is what a team of scientists from the Weizmann Institute assures.

During the study, in which 127 men and women between the ages of 21 and 34 took part, participants were offered to smell clove oil, part of which contained particles of hexadecanal, a volatile compound that can be found in our skin, feces and breath. The volunteers then played a computer game in which they had to attack their rivals with unpleasant sounds of varying volume.

The women who inhaled the hexadecanal or ‘HEX’ showed more aggressive behavior than the rest of the participants. The MRI results revealed that they also had high levels of activity in the angular gyrus of the brain, responsible, among other things, for the aggression. As for the men, they behaved in a more relaxed manner than before the experiment.

But why does hexadecanal reduce aggressiveness in men but increase it in women? This substance is produced in significant quantities in the scalp of newborn babies as part of an evolutionary mechanism, as it makes their mothers protect them from a possible threat.

While maternal aggression is usually directed against any animal or person who threatens its offspring, “Male aggression translates many times into aggression toward newborns – infanticide is a very real phenomenon in the animal kingdom,” explains the main author Dr Eva Mishor.

It should be noted that we are unable to smell the hexadechannel, but this does not diminish its effect. 

“Babies cannot communicate through language, so chemical communication is very important for them,” said study author Noam Sobel, adding “As a baby, it is in your interest to make your mum more aggressive and reduce aggressiveness in your dad,”

The full text of the study has been published in the scientific journal Science Advances.

Source: 10.1126/sciadv.abg1530

Image Credit: iStock

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