Chemical Communication: The Effects of Stress-Induced Apocrine Sweat on Human Perceptions and Interactions
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
In times of stress, humans secrete a type of sweat (apocrine sweat) that they do not secrete at any other time. This sweat has been previously shown to influence others who are exposed to it. The current project seeks to explore how apocrine sweat influences the people who are exposed to it. Using the framework of Emotional Contagion Theory, two studies were conducted to assess the effects of stress-induced apocrine sweat on human perceptions and interactions. Study 1 saw participants exposed to either thermoregulatory sweat or apocrine sweat before watching a short, fear-inducing video. Participants then reported their levels of psychological fear, physical fear, and how afraid they thought others would be in response to the video. Results indicate that exposure to apocrine sweat increases the level of fear reported, and that this effect is stronger for women than it is for men. The effect is consistent regardless of how susceptible one is to other forms of emotional contagion. Study 2 saw a romantic couple exposed to either thermoregulatory sweat or apocrine sweat before engaging in a conflict discussion. Participants then reported on their levels of anger and their partner’s levels of anger as compared to their typical discussion about the topic. Results indicate that exposure to apocrine sweat is associated with a reduction in the couple’s levels of anger. This effect was equally strong for men and women, and was not influenced by susceptibility to other forms of emotional contagion. Overall, results indicate that apocrine sweat has discernable effects on human perceptions and interactions.
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Hatcher, Laura Caitlyn, "Chemical Communication: The Effects of Stress-Induced Apocrine Sweat on Human Perceptions and Interactions" (2016). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 4249.
Edwards, Jean R.