Police line-ups are notoriously unreliable, but a new scientific study may have stumbled across a more accurate way of identifying criminals – the BO test. According to the study published in the Public Library of Science, our noses could be more reliable than our eyes when it comes to picking out a bad guy.
In order to prove their overlooked “nosewitness” identification concept, the smell boffins behind the study showed some participants a short video of a man carrying carrying out a crime against a woman while a jar of body odour was wafted in front of them and other participants a neutral video with the same smell.
The participants rated the video in terms of “vividness, pleasantness and arousal” – the crime video were “rated as significantly more arousing”. When given a smell lineup 15 minutes later 68% of those who saw the crime and 45% of those who saw the neutral video were able to identify the odour.
The study notes that although highly arousing events such as witnessing a crime usually lead to a decline in visual recall of the event, it seems we are wired to remember odours encoded during negative emotions.
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