Science

Worriers Have A Heightened Sense Of Smell

Some people can pinpoint odours better than others — which can be both good or bad, depending on the source. But new research reveals that it’s people who are more anxious that have a heightened sense of smell.

The study, published in Chemosensory Perception, looked into how anxiety was related to the ability to detect odour. Participants were asked if they could detect a number of smells — both good and bad — in stressed and unstressed states. In all cases, their anxiety was measured using breathing rate, skin electrical conductivity and a survey.

The researchers found a strong correlation between anxiety and ability to smell odours — particularly unpleasant ones. They speculate that it’s an evolutionary phenomenon: a heightened sense of smell can help to detect predators or disease-carriers, exactly the times that one may become anxious.

There is an obvious downside to a heightened sense of smell that doesn’t bear too much thinking about: what if you become too anxious? [Chemosensory Perception via Scientific American]

Image by Olaru Radian-Alexandru/Shutterstock.

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