Dec 08

An interesting study conducted by researchers of the University of Wroclaw has found that people are able to guess a person’s type of personality to a reasonable extent, simply by smelling them, or their clothes. The team did some testing with volunteers, as they describe in their study published in the European Journal of Personality, and found that people could guess another’s personality through odors at least as well as they could when shown videos of people in action.

To find out just how well people can gauge personality types through smelling odors given off by other people’s bodies, the team asked 60 people, half men and half women to wear plain white t-shirts while they slept, for three nights in a row. Each was asked to not use perfumes, soap or deodorants and to not smoke or eat or drink things that affect body odor, such as onions or garlic. Each of the participants were also given personality tests before the t-shirt wearing part of the study began, to asses personality types.

At the end of the three days, the t-shirts were all collected and put into non-clear, labeled plastic bags. Then, two hundred volunteers, half men and half women, were enlisted to sniff the bags and offer their opinions on personality type based on nothing but the odors wafting from the bags. Each volunteer sniffed just six bags to avoid becoming inured presumably and each bag was sniffed by twenty sniffers to get a large enough sample to avoid coincidence.

After all was said and done, those doing the sniffing were able to guess whether the person who had emitted the odor was anxious, outgoing or dominant at least as well as people in a previous study had been able to do watching videos of people interacting with others. Also interesting was that the sniffers were particularly adept at picking up dominate personality types from odors that came from someone of the opposite gender.

While clearly not at a hundred percent, the researchers indicate the study shows that there is something going on regarding how much a person sweats and under what conditions as well as a correlation between the components in sweat and personality traits and that other people are able to pick up on those differences when in their vicinity. Thus, the results are actually two-fold. The first is that people apparently give off personality clues when sweating, and second, that people are able to not only smell the differences in people, but make judgments about them based on what they smell.

(Sources:</>; Does Personality Smell? Accuracy of Personality Assessments Based on Body Odour, Article first published online: 12 OCT 2011. DOI: 10.1002/per.848. Image credit:

Jul 31

Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Counselor, Trainer or Psychotherapist?
The maze of mental health-related job titles.

Most of the people looking for advice, having personal problems or problems in their relationrships inevitably have to ask themselves: who is the right person to adress my issues? 100 years ago it was usually a priest or a medical doctor. Today, however, thanks to the great progress in specialization and research, it makes sense to contact the most competent partner.

Psychiatrists and neurologists: they are trained medical doctors specializing in the diagnosis and predominantly pharmacological (drug) treatment of severe mental disorders such as personality disorders and psychosis (such as schizophrenia etc.) and neurological disorders (disorders of the nervous system).
Psychologists: are the experts on mental processes and structures. It’s clinical psychologists who usually specialize in diagnosis, counseling and training. Offering psychotherapy, however, requires additional qualifications in most countries.

Coaches, counselors, advisers: these titles are not protected, so a proliferation of vendors, mostly without any skills, or professionally based training exists. “Before use”, therefore, an opinion about the seriousness of the provider should be formed.
Psychotherapists: for their profession, the therapeutic treatment of mental disorders and psychological burden, they have to undergo several years of intense training. Psychotherapeutic applications include couples therapy and sex therapy. Psychotherapies usually involve sessions of about 50 minutes every 1-2 weeks.

For minor issues only recently beginning, counseling is usually sufficient. If these issues have lasted longer or occur again and again, it is recommended to visit a qualified psychotherapist and to follow through with the therapy for several months to achieve long-term improvement. With severe mental illness, consult a psychiatrist in order to get a correct diagnosis and medication support as complementary treatment – it is worldwide standard today to get supportive and stimulating psychotherapeutic treatment for psychiatric disorders as well. This approach however seems to only slowly gain footing in Thailand.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2010)