People don't like the smell of close relatives, and that's good.

It has long been known that the sense of smell in humans plays an important role in communication with other people, although we ourselves do not even notice it. Surely you yourself have noticed that sometimes strangers evoke sympathy or antipathy for no apparent reason. According to scientists, an important role in this is played by the smell of a person’s body, which our brain evaluates without our noticing. In general, the perception of aromas is associated with many psychophysiological processes, and it is still being actively studied. According to the results of some studies, we even select our friends by smell, not to mention our soulmate. It is difficult to say how and by what criteria our brain evaluates the “quality of smell” of another person, but we know for sure which people’s smell always seems unpleasant to us – these are our closest relatives.

People don't like the smell of close relatives, and that's good. People don't like the smell of their opposite-sex closest relatives. Photo source: Photo.

People don't like the smell of their opposite-sex immediate family. Photo source:

People don’t like the smell of relatives

In a fairly simple study, scientists checked which people’s smells we like more, and which — less. To do this, volunteers were given the opportunity to smell the things of strangers and close relatives. Oddly enough, all participants in the experiment preferred the smells of strangers rather than their own family members.

People don't like the smell of relatives. Mothers don't like the smell of their children. Photo source: Photo.

What is especially interesting is that mothers strongly disliked the smells of their children. The children were disgusted by the smell of their father. Brothers and sisters of different sexes also felt disgust for each other's smell. But same-sex children treated the smell of their brothers and sisters quite calmly and did not experience any unpleasant emotions.

Can relatives recognize each other by smell

During the study, scientists also tested whether relatives could recognize their family members by smell. For example, can mothers and fathers recognize the smell of their children? As it turned out, parents recognize their preteen children by their smell, and mothers do this more accurately. However, parents could not determine which child the smell belonged to if there were two or more children in the family.

Children under the age of 8 could not recognize their mothers by their smell. The only exceptions were sons who were breastfed. But at an older age, from 9 to 15 years, children recognize the smell of their mother.

Can relatives recognize each other by smell. Mothers and fathers can recognize their child by smell. Photo source: Photo.

Why does the smell of relatives cause disgust

Considering all of the above, it can be assumed that disgust for the smell of relatives, especially of different sexes, is one of the mechanisms that prevent incest. The fact is that the reproduction of healthy offspring is a necessity for each species. As is known, incest leads to serious health problems in children. Therefore, evolution itself has provided certain “safety devices” against incest in some species.

The options for such fuses are very different. For example, some animals drive their offspring away from their territory when they grow up. Another common “fuse” in the animal world is lifelong fidelity to one’s partner. Animals such as elephants try to mate females from their offspring with young males from “families” that live geographically far away. Moreover, the young couple is «introduced» grandmothers are still at an early age and make sure that they definitely “get married.”

It must be said that elephants are generally very social animals, and in many ways resemble people. For example, we previously told you that these animals call each other by name and bury their loved ones.

Why does the smell of relatives cause disgust. Wolves recognize their relatives by smell. Photo source: Photo.

Wolves recognize their relatives by smell. Photo source:

There is also such a thing as “individual imprinting”. Parents and children remember each other’s smell and appearance. For example, this helps a wolf pack track the degree of kinship of all its members. Many animals use smell to determine complex patterns of kinship, even first and second cousins.

In addition to everything else, moral and ethical education is of great importance for people, that is, the process of forming in children the norms, ideals, and principles accepted in society that regulate behavior. But it seems that the sense of smell is also an additional “limiter”.

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Unfortunately, science still knows very little about how smells affect our behavior. For example, what guides our brain when it chooses friends by smell. According to one study, at a subconscious level, we try to choose people with a similar smell for communication. Most likely, we inherited this feature from our ancient ancestors, who relied on their sense of smell much more than we did.