Scientists have discovered an unconventional method to reduce aggressive behavior in men – by exposing them to the scent of a woman’s tears.

In a study published in PLOS Biology, men who sniffed women’s tears before engaging in a competitive game exhibited significantly less aggression. While the act of crying has been a natural response to sadness, its scientific understanding has been limited.

The study draws parallels with rodent behavior, where male rodents exhibit reduced aggression when exposed to female tears, indicating a form of social chemosignaling. Lead author Shani Agron from the Weizmann Institute of Science conducted experiments exposing men to either women’s tears or saline while engaging in a game designed to provoke aggression. The surprising results showed a more than 40 percent reduction in revenge-seeking behavior among men who had sniffed women’s tears.

The study delves into the impact of tears on aggression, building on previous findings that link lower testosterone levels in men to tear exposure.

Agron’s research aimed to understand if tears would elicit similar effects in humans, and the observed reduction in aggressive behavior was larger than anticipated. The researchers also examined brain regions associated with aggression, finding reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex and anterior insula in men exposed to women’s tears.

Agron emphasizes that tears, as a chemical signal emitted during vulnerable situations, play a role in lowering aggression, suggesting the mechanism is not exclusive to animals but extends to humans. The study, initially focused on men due to the availability of tears, prompts the need for replication in women to gain a comprehensive understanding of this behavior. Agron acknowledges the social acceptability of women crying and the potential implications of tear-induced testosterone reduction on aggression, particularly in men.

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