Sweat Can Transfer Happiness

Contagious Emotional State


 R esearch published in Psychological Science, the journal of the Association for Psychological Science, has found that positive moods can be transferred from one person to another via human sweat. The scientists from Utrecht University, in the Netherlands, tested 12 young men and 36 young women. The men were given clean shirts and absorbent pads were attached to their armpits while they watched video clips that induced several emotional states—fear, happiness or neutral. The researchers then stored the absorbent pads for each emotion into sealed jars.

The 36 women were then tested with each of the absorbent pads randomly, with five-minute breaks in-between. They placed their chins on a special rest that held the absorbent pad underneath. The research was double-blind, so neither the researchers nor subjects knew which pads they were exposed to. During each exposure, the women’s facial expressions were recorded. The researchers determined that the women had facial expressions reflecting the emotion induced by the videos the men watched, based on the activity of the women’s facial muscles.

Senior researcher Gün Semin, of Utrecht University, says, “Our study shows that being exposed to sweat produced under happiness induces a simulacrum of happiness in receivers and induces a contagion of the emotional state. This suggests that somebody that’s happy will infuse others in their vicinity with happiness. In a way, happiness sweat is somewhat like smiling—it’s infectious.”

This article appears in the October 2016 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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