A social chemosignaling function for human handshaking

Idan Frumin*, Ofer Perl, Yaara Endevelt-Shapira, Ami Eisen, Neetai Eshel, Iris Heller, Maya Shemesh, Aharon Ravia, Lee Sela, Anat Arzi, Noam Sobel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

Social chemosignaling is a part of human behavior, but how chemosignals transfer from one individual to another is unknown. In turn, humans greet each other with handshakes, but the functional antecedents of this behavior remain unclear. To ask whether handshakes are used to sample conspecific social chemosignals, we covertly filmed 271 subjects within a structured greeting event either with or without a handshake. We found that humans often sniff their own hands, and selectively increase this behavior after handshake. After handshakes within gender, subjects increased sniffing of their own right shaking hand by more than 100%. In contrast, after handshakes across gender, subjects increased sniffing of their own left non-shaking hand by more than 100%. Tainting participants with unnoticed odors significantly altered the effects, thus verifying their olfactory nature. Thus, handshaking may functionally serve active yet subliminal social chemosignaling, which likely plays a large role in ongoing human behavior.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere05154
JournaleLife
Volume2015
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, eLife Sciences Publications Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'A social chemosignaling function for human handshaking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this