A woman crying is, for many men, something of a turn-off. But does this response come about due to a chemical reaction?
New research is suggesting our tear ducts may be sending out signals to the opposite sex, whether we realize it or not.
To test this, male volunteers were asked to sniff the “emotional tears” of women. Unlike all other species, when humans cry tears of emotion, the chemical breakdown differs from that of standard lubricating tears.
To conduct the effort, researchers advertised for female volunteers who could cry on command. Fresh emotional tears, no more than two hours old, had to be used.
Male volunteers would be surveyed about, among other things, their level of sexual arousal shortly after smelling the tears.
Women with saline drops on their cheeks were used as a control.
In this and other similar experiments, the men who sniffed emotional tears became less sexually aroused.
The study suggests this effect may serve the purpose of deterring sexual interaction while a woman is menstruating, a time when they are commonly believed to cry more frequently.
“Men who sniffed emotional
tears became less sexually aroused.”
“Chemical signaling is a form of language,” said researcher Dr. Noam Sobel, a professor of neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. “Basically what we’ve found is the chemo-signaling word for ‘no’ – or at least ‘not now.’”
Sobel said the tears of both men and women appear to clearly transmit specific chemical signals that others react to.
Another round of experiments is planned using the tears of men, though the researchers admit they’ve had a more difficult time locating male volunteers who can cry on demand.
While many experts found the results quite compelling, one notable researcher had an objection.
It was more than four decades ago that Martha K. McClintock, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, first suggested women living together can trigger synchronized menstrual cycles.
“Oh, please,” she said, questioning some of the findings. “Do we know that women cry more often during menstruation?”
The study was published in the journal Science.
Source: sciencemag.org. Photo source: mirror.co.uk