Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

People use handshakes to sniff each other out

03.03.2015

Limp or firm, your handshake conveys subliminal social cues. Now, research reveals it also transmits chemical signals that could explain why the greeting evolved in the first place.

In the study, published in the journal eLife, scientists from Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science found that people use the touch of a handshake to sample and sniff signalling molecules.


Scientists find that people use the touch of a handshake to sample and sniff signaling molecules. A sterile glove was used to identify signaling molecules transmitted via a handshake.

Credit: Frumin et al.

During the experiment, around 280 people were greeted either with or without a handshake. They were filmed using hidden cameras and observed to see how many times they touched their face. One finding of the study was that people constantly sniff their own hands -- keeping a hand at their nose about 22% of the time. Subjects greeted with a handshake significantly increased touching of their faces with their right hand. However, this only seemed to be the case when the subject had been greeted by a person of the same gender.

To check that the observed face-touching was being used as a way to subtly sniff the hand used in handshaking, subjects were fitted with nasal catheters to measure airflow. They found that when a hand was in close proximity to the nose airflow through the nasal passages doubled. In other words, the subject was sniffing.

""It is well-known that we emit odours that influence the behaviour and perception of others but, unlike other mammals, we don't sample those odours from each other overtly," says Professor Noam Sobel, Chair of Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

"Instead, our experiments reveal handshakes as a discreet way to actively search for social chemosignals," he said.

Previous studies have suggested that human chemosignals play a role in mate selection, conveying fear, altering brain activity, and synchronising women's menstrual cycles. To confirm that handshaking is effective at passing on this type of chemical, the scientists analysed the content of sterile gloves used to shake the hands of the subjects. They found that squalene and hexadecanoic acid, both chemicals thought to play a part in social signalling in dogs and rats, were transferred onto the gloves.

"Handshaking is already known to convey a range of information depending on the duration of the gesture, its strength and the posture used," says Professor Sobel. "We argue that it may have evolved to serve as one of a number of ways to sample social chemicals from each other, and that it still serves this purpose in a meaningful albeit subliminal way."

###

Reference

The paper 'A social chemosignalling function for human handshaking' can be freely accessed online at http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.05154. Contents, including text, figures, and data, are free to re-use under a CC BY 4.0 license.

An Insight article, 'Social chemosignaling: The scent of a handshake,' authored by Gün R. Semin & Ana Rita Farias of the Instituto Universitário, Lisbon, Portugal is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.06758.

Media contact

Jennifer Mitchell, eLife
j.mitchell@elifesciences.org
+44 (0) 1223 855 373

About eLife Sciences Publications Ltd

eLife is a unique collaboration between the funders and practitioners of research to improve the way important research is selected, presented, and shared. eLife publishes outstanding works across the life sciences and biomedicine -- from basic biological research to applied, translational, and clinical studies. eLife is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust. Learn more at elifesciences.org.

Jennifer Mitchell | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: airflow biological research nasal passages

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy, new study suggests
11.12.2018 | Columbia University Irving Medical Center

nachricht Climate change and air pollution damaging health and causing millions of premature deaths
30.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>