Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Aroma of Political Ideology: Under arm scent and Political Preference

 Who knew?  Were it not for National Public Radio, Mad Dog  certainly would not have been aware of a Brown University study which involved collection of underarm scents (Mad Dog will spare you the details) from 146 subjects who were divided into liberal and conservative political persuasion groups. 

Exposing subjects to the scents from other subjects, the researchers asked each subject to select aromas which appealed to them and those which repelled them.

While the results were not completely sharply divided, there was a statistically significant divide,  in which politically liberal subjects found the underarm scents from other liberals attractive and pleasing while they found axillary odors from conservatives repellent.

The study, "Assortative Mating on Ideology Could Operate Through Olfactory Cues," might explain why in 21st century America when people speak of a "Mixed marriage" they are not talking about the marriage of a Catholic and Jew or a Black and a White, but of a Republican and a Democrat--James Carville and Mary Matalin.

Of course, we all know of wonderful marriages between conservatives and liberals, and those are especially evident in the purple state of New Hampshire, but once again, science has leaped in to provide the news we all wanted to hear and will rush to believe: It's just chemistry.

Actually, Mad Dog recently had an experience which may, or may not lend credence to the study.  While taping a puppet show, which required him to raise both hands with puppets above his head, he found he could not turn the pages of his script, and he needed a page turner, as a pianist, whose hands are busy, needs  page turner.  That task fell to an unfortunate colleague who had to reach under his arm, while keeping her head down so as not be be visible to the camera, so she was forced to dip her head under Mad Dog's fetid arm to turn pages.

Both actors in this drama were liberals, and while the page turner was not relishing her predicament, she at least was able to survive two and a half hours of underarm exposure. Had Mad Dog been a conservative Republican, could she have survived without having to be carted out on a stretcher?

It is doubtful we will ever have the follow up study, with the page turner subjected to arm pit exposure while turning the pages under a conservative, but if we can write a grant, perhaps we can get funding.


  1. Mad Dog,
    Yes, this does beg the question what type of preemptive measures would a liberal need to employ in order to safely remain in the same room with say Limbaugh or Cruz? Clothes pins for one's nose...smelling salts in case one of them became overheated, leading to a release of toxic fumes capable of knocking out any liberal within 50 feet...and just when you thought they couldn't be any more repugnant...

  2. Maud,

    It does, however, present possibilities for sniffing out conservatives when you have only just met.
    Dogs do a lot of sniffing with greeting; perhaps they are scoping out political affiliation.

    Mad Dog