The Weizmann Institute of Science published a study in PLOS Biology that revealed that women’s tears lower testosterone and aggression in men.
Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have shown that social cues in human tears function as a “chemical blanket,” preventing others from becoming aggressive.
The study, which was published in PLOS Biology, might explain why people cry.
In contrast to most animals, which mostly use tears to lubricate their eyes, humans and dogs cry specifically in response to different emotional states. Previously dismissed by experts as meaningless, including Charles Darwin himself, this phenomenon now seems to have a deep societal significance.
The Israeli researchers found that tears are ‘chemical messages’ that serve as a defense mechanism for the person shedding them. In a set of carefully monitored tests, men inadvertently breathed in saline solution or women’s emotional tears—both of which have no smell.
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These males then took part in a game designed to incite aggressiveness motivated by retaliation. Surprisingly, compared to those who sniffed the saline solution, aggressive behavior decreased by 44% when exposed to women’s tears.
Moreover, men exposed to tears showed less activity in brain areas linked to violence during brain imaging. As demonstrated by laboratory testing, pheromones in tears activate some 62 human olfactory receptors.
“We’ve shown that tears activate olfactory receptors and that they alter aggression-related brain circuits, significantly reducing aggressive behavior,” stated study leader Professor Noam Sobel to emphasize the importance of the findings. He proposed that mammals, including rats and humans, may all share this “chemical blanket” of defense.
A recent study published in Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science has revealed that smoking shrinks the brain and quitting doesn’t restore size.
Our knowledge of tears has expanded recently beyond their primary role in land mammal lubrication of the eyes. According to studies, the molecules in female mice’s tears affect the aggressiveness of male mice, while weaker blind mole rats use their tears to lessen the aggression of stronger males. This body of knowledge has expanded to include the discovery of emotional tears in dogs, indicating the possibility of emotional communication between species.
Additionally, Sobel’s research discovered that men’s levels of testosterone, the hormone linked to sexual excitement, drop when they smell the aroma of tears. That implies that tears have a more profound biological effect on human connections.
Because of women’s marked drop in aggression in response to decreasing testosterone, Sobel’s doctoral student Shani Agron, who is part of her team, emphasized the significance of broadening their research to include women for a more comprehensive knowledge of tears’ effects beyond the initial focus on men.
In addition to providing insightful information about newborn behavior, the study raises the idea that babies weep all the time because they use their tears as a chemical signal to defend themselves against aggression.