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The compatibility of political ideas helps us to find a partner ... through the smell

The compatibility of political ideas helps us to find a partner ... through the smell

July 13, 2024

Not everything in politics responds to rational principles. Interestingly, in ideology there is also a side that is hormonal and that affects our most personal relationships.

Smell, political ideology and sexual attraction ... an impossible cocktail?

At least, this seems to conclude an investigation published in the American Journal of Political Science, which suggests that people are more attracted to the smell of people whose political ideology is similar to theirs . That is, we are not only able to discriminate between "conservative" and "progressive" scents, but we also use this criterion, to a lesser or greater extent, to find a stable partner.


To reach this conclusion, the researchers used a sample of 146 people between 18 and 40 years old who indicated their political positioning on a numbered scale ranging from "strongly progressive" to "strongly conservative". From these data, 21 people with extreme smells in one way or another were chosen. After bathing with soap and shampoos devoid of odor, these people spent 24 hours with gauze glued to their armpits. During this time they were not allowed to smoke, drink, use deodorants, have sex or sleep with another person or animal in bed.

The resulting samples were frozen and stored until a week later, at which time 125 people proceeded to smell each of the samples in random order. In each case, scored about five points the attractiveness of these smells . In addition, these people and those who spent 24 hours with the gauze never got to see each other.


The results are surprising: There is a clear pattern of recognition and better appreciation of the smells of those whose political positioning is similar to their own , compared to those with an opposite position.

Once the data is exposed, it is the turn of the interpretation. One hypothesis that is shuffled from evolutionary psychology is that stable couples with similar ideologies tend to create a more stable family context that favors offspring breeding, and so on. That is why, the researchers point out, it is not uncommon for political inclination to be one of the features that most stable couples have in common. Under the apparently simple idea of ​​political compatibility there can be a series of processes that affect not only our social environment, but also the sexual and breeding level.

The similarity in terms of ideology and values ​​within a family can be very helpful (or avoid many problems) when it comes to maintaining and effectively educating children until their transformation into adults. The perception of the smells of others would be, then, not only one of the mechanisms that reinforce this adaptation mechanism, but also a process that has the target in our most emotional and subjective plane.

The smell communicates

This would be another proof of to what extent the smell can provide information about the issuer and be a method of social communication , although at a rather unconscious level. The choice of a partner may be an even less rational experience than we think.

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