Nathan DeWall

Scent of a Man Leads to Stress

Blog Post created by Nathan DeWall on Jul 20, 2016

Originally posted on May 15, 2014.


Each day we face stressors. Our pets get sick, lightning strikes the office, or we miss loved ones. New research identified another stressor lurking in our midst: men.

This research, which was reported by the New York Times, showed that rats and mice get stressed out when they’re around men. Even catching a whiff of a men’s t-shirt was enough to raise their stress hormones. The scent of a woman didn’t increase stress.

Most men don’t consider themselves stressors. When I walk into a classroom, I tell my students my mission:

  • Motivate
  • Encourage
  • Advocate
  • Learn

But these findings suggest that no matter what I do, my maleness may spike their stress levels. The good news is that our bodies adjust. The first day of class might be stressful, especially when you have a male instructor. Over time that stress should wash away.

How far can we extrapolate these findings? Although exposure to a single male increases stress that eventually drops off, what if people were constantly bombarded with men? In societies where men outnumber women, would stress levels peak? My next post will answer that question.