Have you ever done this after shaking someone’s hand?
They say you can tell a lot about a person from their handshake but it’s not firmness we’re talking about – it seems some people are using the moment to check the other person’s smell, albeit unconsciously.
Israeli scientists secretly filmed 280 people meeting a researcher and found those who were greeted with a handshake would bring their hands near their face. The scientists measured airflow through the subjects’ noses, which confirmed they were smelling their hands unconsciously.
It is believed that this unconscious hand sniffing is a way of picking up chemical clues about those we meet, similar to how animals use scent to establish friend or foe.
“Unlike rodents, cats and dogs, it isn’t socially acceptable to walk up and sniff each other,” said Professor Noam Sobel who led the work at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
“We think this is a way we’ve developed to collect this information in a subliminal fashion.”
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