The Scent of a Handshake

… Do people really sniff their hands following a handshake? And is it directly related to the handshake? And more importantly – is it related to our sense of smell?

Interesting study, but falls far short of investigating universal human behavior. There are quite a few cultures where, interactions with foreigners for business or other reasons aside, strangers don’t normally touch each other.

I happen to live in one of them. I grew up in the US, but live in Japan. I can’t remember the last time I touched someone I didn’t know well outside of a dojo, where you sure as hell don’t have to sniff your hand to get a good whiff of someone’s secretions.

Normal greeting distance in Japan is a good 50% farther away than North American handshake distance, so you don’t even have proximity to work with. On the “plus” side for scent transfer, antiperspirants and deodorants largely aren’t used by men, though some women’s products have started to get some traction recently.

Judging from the almost complete lack of post-elimination ablutions observed in toiletry facilities (it’s only in the last few years that I’ve seen soap in some — not all — restrooms) I am quite happy to skip the handshake.