Scent of a Woman: Hand Odor Can Reveal a Person’s Sex With 96% Accuracy

by Klaus Müller
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hand odor

New Study Shows Hand Odor Can Accurately Determine a Person’s Sex with 96% Accuracy

A groundbreaking study has discovered that the distinct odor compounds present on an individual’s hand can serve as a reliable indicator of their sex, offering potential benefits in criminal investigations. By utilizing mass spectrometry, scientists achieved an impressive 96.67% accuracy rate in predicting a person’s sex, suggesting that this approach could also unveil additional information such as age, race, and ethnicity.

Conducted by Kenneth Furton of Florida International University and published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on July 5, the study revealed that the composition of scent compounds emitted from the hand can be utilized to accurately determine an individual’s sex.

While dogs have long been employed in criminal investigations to identify and track individuals based on their scent, the analysis of human scent profiles within a laboratory setting has remained a challenge.

In this recent study, researchers employed mass spectrometry, a sophisticated analytical technique, to examine the volatile scent compounds found on the palms of 60 participants, evenly divided between males and females. After identifying the compounds within each sample, a statistical analysis was conducted to ascertain whether the individual’s sex could be determined based on their scent profile. Remarkably, this analysis achieved a 96.67% accuracy rate in predicting an individual’s sex.

Crimes such as robberies, assaults, and rapes often involve the perpetrator’s hands, potentially leaving behind valuable trace evidence at the crime scene. This study demonstrates that it is indeed feasible to determine a person’s sex through hand odors. Furthermore, previous research on human odor suggests that scent compounds could also disclose information about a person’s age and racial or ethnic background. Therefore, with further validation, the chemical and statistical analyses presented in this study could unlock numerous details about a potential perpetrator solely through their hand odor profile.

The authors emphasize, “This method of analyzing volatile compounds in hand odor can be applied when other distinguishing evidence such as DNA is unavailable, enabling differentiation or classification based on sex, race, and age.”

Reference: “Multivariate regression modeling for gender prediction using volatile organic compounds from hand odor profiles via HS-SPME-GC-MS” by Chantrell J. G. Frazier, Vidia A. Gokool, Howard K. Holness, DeEtta K. Mills, and Kenneth G. Furton, 5 July 2023, PLOS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0286452

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about hand odor, sex prediction, criminal investigations

What is the main finding of the study?

The main finding of the study is that hand odor can accurately predict a person’s sex with 96.67% accuracy using mass spectrometry analysis of scent compounds.

How was the study conducted?

The study involved analyzing the volatile scent compounds present on the palms of 60 individuals, evenly divided between males and females, using mass spectrometry. The researchers then performed a statistical analysis to determine if the individual’s sex could be predicted based on their scent profile.

Can this method be used in criminal investigations?

Yes, the study suggests that hand odor analysis could provide valuable information in criminal investigations. Hand-related crimes such as robberies, assaults, and rape leave behind trace evidence, and the ability to determine a person’s sex through hand odor could aid in identifying potential perpetrators.

What other information can be revealed through scent compounds?

While the study focused on predicting sex, previous research suggests that scent compounds could also provide insights into a person’s age, race, and ethnicity. Further validation of the method could potentially unlock these additional details solely through hand scent profiles.

How reliable is the prediction of sex based on hand odor?

The prediction of sex based on hand odor achieved an accuracy rate of 96.67% in the study. However, it is important to note that further research and validation are necessary before implementing this method widely in real-world scenarios.

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