Washington: Stressed about your job interview? Those sweaty palms may be a deal-breaker!
The smell of stressed women may make them come across as incompetent and untrustworthy to others, a new study has claimed.
The study confirms for the first time that the smell of stress sweat does, in fact, significantly alter how women are perceived by both males and females.
The findings indicate that the odour from stress-related sweat specifically impacts social judgements of one's confidence, trustworthiness and competence, researchers said.
Researchers sampled 44 female donors who provided three types of axillary odour samples including; exercise sweat, stress sweat (untreated) and stress sweat (treated with Secret Clinical StrengthTM).
Participants wore comfortable clothes for exercising that would allow access to the underarm for sample collection, and were seated in a climate-controlled chamber where baseline recordings of heart rate and mood were obtained.
A different experimenter then administered the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST).
After the TSST, participants were asked to fill out the mood ratings and sweat samples were obtained. The participants were then informed they would exercise on a stationary cycle for 15 minutes and sweat samples would be collected as well as mood ratings.
Once the test was completed, 120 male and female evaluators, presented with samples of each type of sweat, watched videos of women performing every-day activities (office, home, childcare, etc) in order to rate how stressed each woman appeared.
All evaluators rated the females with treated stress sweat as significantly more confident, trustworthy and competent.
Women evaluated in the presence of untreated stress sweat were equally rated by males and females as 'stressed'. In addition, male evaluators rated the women in the videos significantly less confident, competent and trustworthy when the videos were paired with the untreated stress sweat.
"Researchers have studied the impact of stress sweat on emotional states and brain activity, but we have not previously evaluated how it influences social perception," said lead investigator Pamela Dalton, member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center.
"For the first time, we have found that stress sweat odour impacts overall judgements of perceived confidence, trustworthiness and competence," said Dalton.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.