Forget the big red nose and the sea of scrunched-up Kleenex, it’s your tears that have dampened his desire.
Neurobiologist Noam Sobel from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science has discovered that tears of sadness send out a chemical signal which has no discernible odor, but which temporarily lowers a man’s testosterone levels if he gets close enough.
The study which was published in the journal ‘Science’ is evidence that emotional tears have a different purpose to reflex tears – the ones you get in response to onions or dust. Apparently, the glands that secrete tears contain receptors for sex hormones which is why some postmenopausal women suffer form a condition known as ‘dry eye’.
The researchers suggest that tears have evolved as a “chemosignal” that indicates ‘now is not the right time’ to a potential sex partner, while reduced testosterone levels simply decrease the chance of a mate becoming aggressive if his sexual needs are not met. Oddly though, tears do not increase male empathy. I guess, in evolutionary terms, this would decrease the chance of women crying for ‘effect’.
The study was carried out with a group of female volunteers who were asked to watch a ‘tear jerker’ movie. Their tears were collected in a vial, and for the comparison, researchers trickled saline down the women’s cheeks and collected those droplets, too. Healthy young men couldn’t smell a difference between the real tears and the sham ones.
After the sniff test, the men were asked to rate the women’s photographs. When they sniffed actual tears, they found the women less sexually attractive than when they sniffed saline and when the men sniffed tears and then watched a sad movie inside an MRI scanner, they also showed less activity in neural networks associated with sexual arousal.