Confirmed: You can tell someone’s politics by their body odor

posted at 8:41 pm on September 16, 2014 by Allahpundit

To cleanse the palate during dinnertime on the east coast, a story about sniffing strangers’ sweaty ‘pits.

Turns out conservatives smell like flowers and freedom while liberals smell like oppression and ass. Or at least, they do if you’re conservative.

A new study in the American Journal of Political Science from Brown’s Rose McDermott, Harvard’s Dustin Tingley, and Penn State’s Peter K. Hatemi has found preliminary evidence that people are more attracted to the body odors of others with similar political beliefs. In the study, participants rated the attractiveness of vials of body odors obtained from “strong liberals” and “strong conservatives” on a five-point scale. The participants had no prior knowledge of which vial belonged to which partisan armpit.

Some participants had particularly strong reactions to the vials, as the paper explains:

In one particularly illustrative case, a participant asked the experimenter if she could take one of the vials home with her because she thought it was ‘the best perfume I ever smelled’; the vial was from a male who shared an ideology similar to the evaluator. She was preceded by another respondent with an ideology opposite to the person who provided the exact same sample; this participant reported that the vial had ‘gone rancid’ and suggested it needed to be replaced.

WaPo describes the nuts and bolts of the study. Get a bunch of people to fill out a political questionnaire, then have them wear pads under their arms for 24 hours. Get another bunch of people, have them fill out the political questionnaire, then give each of them a snoutful of those musky pads. Result: A “small but significant” correlation between how pleasant the smeller finds the smell and how ideologically similar the source of the smell is to the smeller, i.e. liberals smell better to liberals and conservatives smell better to conservatives. Which makes sense, as there’s a fairly strong evolutionary reason to pair up with someone who shares your political beliefs: A household where mom and dad agree on the big stuff like religion and politics is more likely to be a tranquil household, and a tranquil household is better for the offspring who are responsible for passing along mom’s and dad’s genes.

Makes me wonder, though, when and why we evolved the ability to sniff out politics. It’s useful as a first-blush mate-screening mechanism, I guess, but it’s surely not foolproof. Talking politics with a love interest must be a better way to weed out the conservative wheat from the liberal chaff (or vice versa, for our liberal readers) than giving them a good snort. The response to that, presumably, is that most of human evolution happened in the age before language, when biological cues were the only way to communicate. Okay, but … why was political compatibility necessary in a time before language? What were cavemen moms and dads grunt-arguing about at the dinner table? Either this smell cue is a late-developing feature in humans, arising after civilization had already begun to gel and forms of political organization became relevant, or it’s related not so much to politics as to the deep psychological underpinnings of liberalism and conservatism. E.g., maybe some people belonged to ancient tribes which, due to their environments, required greater regimentation and respect for authority among their members to succeed. Over many ages, a scent cue formed in men and women who are naturally predisposed to have greater respect for authority, so that they could find each other. As civilization grew up later, that impulse of respect for authority became a trait associated with conservatism. If that’s how it happened, then it’s not so much “liberalism” and “conservatism” that we’re smelling in each other than the primitive impulses that inform each.

Exit question: Could the scent cue have developed to help screen out liars? Many an attractive conservative girl’s been assured by a liberal male admirer, no doubt, that he loves loves loves the NRA and thinks our society could do with a healthy dose of prayer in public schools. (Again, vice versa for liberal readers.) That ‘pit stink might help you tell the fakers from the real Rush listeners.


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Comments

This had to be a government-funded study.

Bitter Clinger on September 16, 2014 at 8:43 PM

Finally. My dating pool has instantly doubled.

nobar on September 16, 2014 at 8:44 PM

But is there a smell for independents/centrists? Whatever it is, Hillary will bathe in it from now until November, 2016. Yes, I just wrote “Hillary” and “bathe” in the same sentence. My humblest apologies to all whose brains now require bleach.

Aizen on September 16, 2014 at 8:51 PM

I’m not so sure that conservative = authoritarian.

No way.

LibertyJane on September 16, 2014 at 8:55 PM

Correlation is not always causation right?

Maybe there are other factors such as race or age that would explain the correlation.

Politics could be just one thing they have in common.

But gross. I sincerely hope I never am asked to smell a dirty arm pit pad. gross.

petunia on September 16, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Exit question: Could the scent cue have developed to help screen out liars?

You mean politicians?

kcewa on September 16, 2014 at 8:56 PM

That’s a palate cleanser?

rbj on September 16, 2014 at 8:57 PM

We have been suffering under the odor of B.O. for more years than we deserve.

onlineanalyst on September 16, 2014 at 8:58 PM

All politicians smell bad.

What happened to the good old days when we had bacon threads? So much better.

Get with it, AP.

Cody1991 on September 16, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Fact: Libs dont bathe.

Smegley on September 16, 2014 at 9:00 PM

I’m a social/economic (50/50) conservative who stresses states rights.
and you don’t want to smell my ass…
just warning you all.

dmacleo on September 16, 2014 at 9:00 PM

To cleanse the palate during dinnertime on the east coast, a story about sniffing strangers’ sweaty ‘pits.

Who eats dinner this late on the east coast?

Bitter Clinger on September 16, 2014 at 9:01 PM

That Smell

kcewa on September 16, 2014 at 9:01 PM

Who eats dinner this late on the east coast?

Bitter Clinger on September 16, 2014 at 9:01 PM

Allah works late.

kcewa on September 16, 2014 at 9:02 PM

Dude President is always picking his nose or flicking little boogers from the rim of his nostrils…body language that he is disgusted by what he’s having to do or say or the people he’s with. Could be his old cocaine habit kicking up but probably not just that. Got nothing to do with body odors for sure.

gracie on September 16, 2014 at 9:04 PM

Just ask the Emperor of Scent about those biased neurotransmitters.

bettycooper on September 16, 2014 at 9:05 PM

Here’s your thread winner, sucka:

Who smells like napalm in the morning?

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 9:09 PM

Dude President is always picking his nose or flicking little boogers from the rim of his nostrils…

gracie on September 16, 2014 at 9:04 PM

I was wondering what the connection between picking one’s nose and body odor was…

Fallon on September 16, 2014 at 9:11 PM

A new study in the American Journal of Political Science from Brown’s Rose McDermott, Harvard’s Dustin Tingley, and Penn State’s Peter K. Hatemi has found preliminary evidence that people are more attracted to the body odors of others with similar political beliefs.

They robbed the American Wallet to finance this El Toro Pop-poo… <—insert eye roll here

Newtie and the Beauty on September 16, 2014 at 9:15 PM

Living in Flagstaff, AZ in the late 70’s to early 80’s, there were quite a few hippie chicks living in tents and converted school buses and the like outside of town. They were mostly young and hot, but didn’t shave their legs or armpits. In general they stunk due to a lack of running water and the absence of societal limits in these camps.

When it got cold and they got hungry, I noticed a lot of ‘garage sales’ in the camps that were fairly well attended.
Years later I learned they were selling nookie!
Unsure who would want bristly stinky hippie luv.

Tard on September 16, 2014 at 9:16 PM

I think its progressives that are in love with the stench of authoritarianism, AP. They also seem to get light-headed sniffing the crotches of their presidents and other celebrities.

But its true that conservatives are not repelled by a whiff of gunpowder or the sweat of an honest day’s toil, scents which makes present day Dems run for the hills.

Dolce Far Niente on September 16, 2014 at 9:16 PM

Libs smell like Joana’s ________.

CW on September 16, 2014 at 9:16 PM

I smell a rat in this thread.

TXUS on September 16, 2014 at 9:18 PM

I have noticed that if ditzo or kochie or Ned Pecker shows up in a thread, an unpleasant odor wafts out of my monitor.

slickwillie2001 on September 16, 2014 at 9:21 PM

That would explain the Sh*tty odor here whenever Ned’s
around…he’s been living in Obama’s azz.

ToddPA on September 16, 2014 at 9:24 PM

If that’s true, then beings in another galaxy must be able to smell Obama.

VorDaj on September 16, 2014 at 9:24 PM

So, those of us who bathe and use deodorant are running “silent”?

Of course, in my social circles, the smell of Hoppe’s No.9 is defined as “wearing cologne”.

cheers

eon

eon on September 16, 2014 at 9:26 PM

A new study in the American Journal of Political Science from Brown’s Rose McDermott, Harvard’s Dustin Tingley, and Penn State’s Peter K. Hatemi has found preliminary evidence that people are more attracted to the body odors of others with similar political beliefs.

Based on experience, there’s no question that scent plays a big role in sexual attraction. But, the correlation to political views doesn’t really work, at least in my case. There have been women in my life for whom I had extreme attraction and it was mutual, some conservative, some liberal, and some who thought they were “independents”. And the best were the liberal ladies, as you had a good reason not to talk to them afterwards.

TXUS on September 16, 2014 at 9:27 PM

Of course they do! conservative men (and women) smell of gunpowder and sweat from being producers in the world. Liberal men have a complete lack of testosterone and pheromones- and liberal women smell unbathed. (JK- mostly)

michaelo on September 16, 2014 at 9:30 PM

Odor is a big part of diagnosing a pathology. And since liberals have diseased minds I’m sure they have a distinctive smell

NOMOBO on September 16, 2014 at 9:30 PM

Lib women smell like desperation and cheap sex and lib men smell like estrogen and dirty laundry. Don’t have to sniff their pits, just stand next to them in a crowded elevator in NYC.

This study cost you nothing and was brought to you by a conservative woman that has the peppery smell of gunpowder.

AppraisHer on September 16, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Odor is a big part of diagnosing a pathology. And since liberals have diseased minds I’m sure they have a distinctive smell

NOMOBO on September 16, 2014 at 9:30 PM

It begins when they open their mouths and start spewing endless shiite.

No mouth wash can cure the stench.

Cody1991 on September 16, 2014 at 9:35 PM

Of course, it could have something to do with the current idea that genes are far more apt to be modified in real time due to environment and other factors.

Vatican Watcher on September 16, 2014 at 9:36 PM

Who knew Malbec and Pinot Grigio came out in your pores!

WryTrvllr on September 16, 2014 at 9:38 PM

We have been suffering under the odor of B.O. for more years than we deserve.

onlineanalyst on September 16, 2014 at 8:58 PM
Thread winner!

Bakokitty on September 16, 2014 at 9:49 PM

What’s the icon on the NYSE for “Dirty, Smelly Hippie?”

BigWyo on September 16, 2014 at 9:50 PM

This had to be a government-funded study.

Bitter Clinger on September 16, 2014 at 8:43 PM

Then I should make a killing in the tar & feathers trade…got a garage FULL of the stuff.

What’s the icon on the NYSE for “Dirty, Smelly Hippie?”

BigWyo on September 16, 2014 at 9:50 PM

This. or This, who is the parent company of that money vacuum MSNBC.

BlaxPac on September 16, 2014 at 10:02 PM

Musk.

=

Musty.

Bmore on September 16, 2014 at 10:15 PM

I imagine that lefties of my generation still have a faint whiff of patchouli, dope, strawberry incense and Boone’s Farm left over from the 60s.

Of course, we Boomers have less sex now, so perhaps its not as much of a social burden to smell like stupid.

Dolce Far Niente on September 16, 2014 at 10:31 PM

Dolce Far Niente on September 16, 2014 at 10:31 PM


Gag.

Boone’s Farm?

Couldn’t find some chilled Prestone instead…?

BlaxPac on September 16, 2014 at 10:38 PM

BO

Schadenfreude on September 16, 2014 at 11:52 PM

Is this what ‘higher ed’ has sunk to, smelling ‘pits?

Another Drew on September 17, 2014 at 12:20 AM

The “free smells” from the Occupy contagion taught us that if nothing else.

Star Bird on September 17, 2014 at 8:17 AM

Libs smell like Joana’s ________.

CW on September 16, 2014 at 9:16 PM

Yes, but her fashion glasses compensate for that.

Star Bird on September 17, 2014 at 8:24 AM

With Obama, there’s sulfur in the air

RdLake on September 17, 2014 at 8:59 AM

BO

Schadenfreude on September 16, 2014 at 11:52 PM

Lolz! Excellent point.

Bmore on September 17, 2014 at 9:13 AM

It’s because “liberals” are full of sh!t. This is why this concept continues to work when they convert from “liberalism” – they aren’t as full of sh!t as they were before.

GWB on September 17, 2014 at 9:19 AM

democrats do smell….that smell will be corrected when they face judgment day. They should get used to the smell of sulpher and burning flesh.

crosshugger on September 17, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Speaking of smelly, looks like we have another gunman inspired by the tall tales of Che Guevara…

http://weaselzippers.us/199900-pa-trooper-shooter-suspect-has-myspace-reference-to-che-guevara-13th-guards-soviet-red-army-rifle-division/

Star Bird on September 17, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Who smells like napalm in the morning?

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 9:09 PM

Real men.

Solaratov on September 17, 2014 at 10:58 AM

That a sex related stimulus encourages, but does not control, the reproduction of certain DNA strands is consistent with evolution being a part of God’s plan. Free will has observable effects what we can understand about God’s plan…about whether or not the Universe is actually unfolding as planned. Makes sense to me.

ShadrachSmith on September 17, 2014 at 11:13 AM

I dare these folks to conduct this study in France.

pain train on September 17, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Who smells like napalm in the morning?

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 9:09 PM

Real men.

Solaratov on September 17, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Thread winner!

Star Bird on September 17, 2014 at 12:30 PM