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Dublin: 1 °C Saturday 18 January, 2020

You smell your own hand after shaking someone else's

Humans are still a bit gross, aren’t they?

Image: smell hand via Shutterstock

MOST PEOPLE SHAKE hands with others several times a week and simply consider it a basic greeting ritual.

However, a new study has suggested that it may actually have developed as a way of literally sniffing out the competition.

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Israel conducted an experiment in which participants were covertly filmed shaking someone’s hand.

When they shook hands with people of their own gender, the likelihood of the person to sniff their own hand soon afterwards doubled.

When it was a person of the opposite gender, the non-shaking hand was sniffed more.

“Handshakes vary in strength, duration and posture, so they convey social information of various sorts,” Prof. Noam Sobel is quoted as saying.

But our findings suggest that at its evolutionary origins, handshaking might have also served to convey odour signals, and such signaling may still be a meaningful, albeit subliminal, component of this custom.

In the video below, it may not seem like the participants were sniffing their hand. Touching one’s face is often a reaction to an awkward situation.

The study also measured airflow through the nose during the handshake, which doubled during the hand-to-face motion.

Source: Weizmann Institute of Science/YouTube

Read: Social Protection has spent almost €4,000 investigating office smells >

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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