Monday, September 13, 2021

Chemosensory anxiety signals seem to act contagiously; reduce trust as well as risk behavior; predominantly affect women; & act independent of odor concentration

It’s trust or risk? Chemosensory anxiety signals affect bargaining in women. Lukas Meister, Bettina M. Pause. Biological Psychology, Volume 162, May 2021, 108114.


• Chemosensory anxiety signals seem to act contagiously.

• Chemosensory anxiety signals reduce trust as well as risk behavior.

• Chemosensory anxiety signals predominantly affect women.

• Chemosensory anxiety signals act independent of odor concentration.


It is well documented how chemosensory anxiety signals affect the perceiver’s physiology, however, much less is known about effects on overt social behavior. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of chemosensory anxiety signals on trust and risk behavior in men and women. Axillary sweat samples were collected from 22 men during the experience of social anxiety, and during a sport control condition. In a series of five studies, the chemosensory stimuli were presented via an olfactometer to 214 participants acting as investors in a bargaining task either in interaction with a fictitious human co-player (trust condition) or with a computer program (risk condition). It could be shown that chemosensory anxiety signals reduce trust and risk behavior in women. In men, no effects were observed. Chemosensory anxiety is discussed to be transmitted contagiously, preferentially in women.

Keywords: Chemosensory communicationTrustRiskBargainingTSST-GAnxiety

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