How does smell affect human behavior? (2023)

How does smell affect human behavior? (1)

Quelle: Wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

sense of smell, also called smell, is the most primitive and mysterious of our six senses. Throughout human evolution, our sense of smell has been key to our survival. Humans are capable of distinguishing thousands of unique odors.

Smell is often the first warning of safety or danger, friend or foe. Smells have the power to instinctively and intentionally influence your behavior.subconsciousup to. Fortunately, you too can harness the power of smell and consciously use it to your advantage.

It's ironic that most people underestimate the power of perfume. Scents have the ability to evoke positive and negative psychological states and responses in milliseconds.

From an evolutionary standpoint, a negative odor, such as that of a dead animal, can trigger an immediate flight reflex. A positive smell, like that of burning wood or baked cookies, can trigger a sense of security and a desire to nurture and befriend while you rest and digest.

What smells cause you a memory of things from the past?

I ampast memory,Marcel Proust illustrates how smell is related to stored experiences early in life.memoryengrams of certainneuralnetworks Proust vividly describes how forgottenchildhoodMemories return to consciousness with their original intensity when the protagonist of your story dunks a cupcake into a cup of tea.

The researchers call this the "Proustian memory effect." Childhood memories associated with scents accompany people throughout their lives. Recently, Rachel Herz of Brown University and Haruko Sugiyama and colleagues at the Kao Corporation in Japan conducted a study to find out how a product's scent evokes personal emotional memories and influences a product's appeal to potential consumers.

June 2015learn, "Proustian products are preferred: the relationship between odor-evoked memory and product evaluation", was published in the journalchemosensory perception.

Herz and his colleagues decided to test how memories evoked by odor affect customers' perception of a product. These "Proustian memories" are usually formed early in life and are extremely powerful when it comes to directing human behavior.

For this experiment, the researchers used samples of four scented body lotions that were sent to 271 American women between the ages of 22 and 31. Participants rated the scents of the lotions on five qualities: pleasure, intensity, familiarity, uniqueness, and the extent to which each lotion evokes personal memories. In a follow-up to the survey, participants rated how much each person liked the lotion.

The researchers found that most study participants preferred lotion scents that smelled pleasant and evoked stronger personal emotional memories. The emotional response to a smell varies greatly from person to person based on personal experience. For example, I love the smell of manure because of positive childhood memories of 4-H, while most people find it disgusting.

How does smell affect human behavior? (2)

Model of a "perfumery organ" used by a perfumer.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The details of olfactory perception are largely determined by prior knowledge and your personal history, but there are also cultural and geographical differences. That being said, in North America and Europe, citrus scents are perceived as happy and happy smells, while lavender is perceived as calming. In Japan, jasmine is associated with a relaxed mood. Rose water is considered an uplifting and happy scent.

Some knowledge of a particular culture can help a perfumer predict the extent to which a particular scent will evoke personal memories.

The individual intensity of Proustic memories evoked by the aroma of a product is the main driving force behind consumer behavior. The more vivid the memories a scent evokes, the greater the chances that someone will purchase a product with that scent.

Even though this study was about smelly drivingconsumer behavior, the smells you surround yourself with can positively influence your personal behavior. The odors you surround yourself with are under your control. You can put yourself in the driver's seat and use scents as a tool to create a certain mindset and enhance your own.Motivationto achieve a target behavior.

Scents have the power to release unconscious memories.

As I was writing this post in a cafe this morning, I asked a group of strangers sitting at the next table about any positive or negative memories that evoked a specific scent from their past. It was a fun conversation that ended up lasting over an hour.

A woman in her 70s said her father always wore English leather and her mother Shalimar. Every time she smells these scents, she is reminded of her parents and her childhood. Another woman said that she changed her perfume with every new boyfriend she had in high school. She asked me to look for the different scents of her past.www.basenotes.netwhile we were talking

The smell of burning wood in a fireplace, freshly cut grass, and the smell of pine from a Christmas tree were associated with positive memories. Everyone strongly associated the smell of baked bread and bacon with "home sweet home."

A person at the table named Jim has been to Vietnam. He said the smell of burning sausages or a chemical called cordite (a smokeless explosive used in munitions) gives him harrowing glimpses of wartime.

After reading this post, I would recommend asking yourself and those around you about your relationship with different smells and aromas and your personal memory of past things associated with a specific smell.

The sense of smell and the mentality oftop performance

How does smell affect human behavior? (3)

Paris Perfume Museum.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I first discovered the link between smell and athletic performance when I started running.Adolescentin the early 1980s. At that time, Original Polo Cologne was very popular and I loved the smell.

Before every race, I would religiously spray myself with Polo Cologne. I associated the smell with horseback riding and pretended that the smell was an elixir that helped me transform into a Secretary while running. To this day, the smell of Polo Cologne mixed with sweat makes me feel seventeen again.

I ampath of the athlete, I have a section on the power of smell and ritualization that I have used in competition to create an energetic and optimistic mindset for peak performance in competitive sports. Onpage 86, I describe the power of olfactory memories associated with a time, place, mentality and behavior from my personal perspective,

Remember the smells of your childhood. Don't the smells of Silly Putty and Play-Doh bring you great waves of memories? I surround myself with scents that evoke positive psychology and an ideal athletic mindset. I have a cardboard box with all these smells that are like time capsules. In the months leading up to a big race, I tend to code a scent for a few months and visualize the event on a day-to-day basis. I bring these scents to create a sense of familiarity and safety. I recommend you payCaveathow smell is integrated into your athletic process and how smell affects your mindset and mood. Make positive associations even with bad smells like the one in the dressing room.

As a professional athlete, I consciously used my sense of smell to create a certain state of mind, mindset, and objective behavior. For example, the smell of sunscreen always reminds me of summer and fills me with energy and happiness from the bright blue sky and shining sun. On gray winter days, while working out on the treadmill in a dreary gym, the smell of sunscreen evoked all the positive emotions associated with summer.

Interestingly, just as an old song you haven't heard in years can take you back to a time and place more vividly than a dubbed "oldie oldie", a scent you haven't smelled in a long time lingers, more strongly associated with a time and place. specific, unless the smell has recently been woven into the neural tapestry by new memories.

The anatomy of a fragrance.

The word perfume is derived from the Latin wordPerfume, which means "to smoke completely". Perfumery is the art of making perfumes. A perfumer is a "nose" or person who creates scents.

The art of perfumery began in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt and was refined by the Romans and the Persians. Creating a fragrance requires the harmonious blending of potentially hundreds of individual natural and synthetic fragrance chemicals. Perfumers typically create three levels of "fragrance notes," including top notes, "middle" notes, and base notes, which develop over time as the fragrance blends with the skin's natural oils.

Top notes are generally light, dissipate quickly, and are often citrusy. The middle and base notes of a fragrance are deeper scents and can be represented as earthy or woody. In a complex fragrance, between 800 and 1,500 different aromatic characteristics can be found. Below is a pyramid that describes how different fragrances contribute to the fragrance pyramid.

How does smell affect human behavior? (4)

Source: Sanctuary of Perfume / Marked for reuse

For example, the Polo Colônia that I wore as a teenager is an extremely complex fragrance created by perfumer Carlos Benaim and includes:top nutspine, bergamot, lavender, cumin, basil.Herznotizencoriander, marjoram, jasmine, geranium, thyme; Ybasic notesleather, oakmoss, patchouli, amber, musk and incense. If you want to identify the different ingredients and notes of your favorite perfume or fragrance, click on ithereto a directory of nearly every fragrance ever created.

Creating an emotional tone through a perfume is a scientific process. Each fragrance contains a unique blend of synthetic and natural substances, including essential oils derived from flowers and plants and artificial synthetic scents. The subtle scents found in all aspects of a fragrance are always mixed with the person's own chemistry, contributing to the Proustian fascination with a "signature scent."

Bottom line: You can harness the power of smell to create ways of thinking and behaving.

Recognizing the power of certain scents in your daily life gives you the opportunity to use them as a tool to create a psychological mood when necessary. Additionally, the memories associated with a scent can help you relive positive associations associated with people and places from your past.

If you'd like to read more on this topic, check out my Psychology Today blog posts:

  • "Returning to an unchanged place shows how you have changed"
  • "New clues to rewire your brain"
  • "Fantasy can change the perception of reality."

© Christopher Bergland 2015. All rights reserved.

path of the athlete® is a registered trademark of Christopher Bergland.

follow me without twitter@ckberglandfor updatespath of the athleteblog entries.


How does smell affect behavior? ›

Human and animal studies show that odor perception is modulated by experience and/or physiological state (such as hunger), and that some odors can arouse emotion, and can lead to the recall of emotional memories. Further, odors can influence psychological and physiological states.

What is the role of smell in human behavior? ›

It strongly influences human behavior, elicits memories and emotions, and shapes perceptions. Our sense of smell plays a major, sometimes unconscious, role in how we perceive and interact with others, select a mate, and helps us decide what we like to eat.

How does smell affect the mind? ›

Smells are handled by the olfactory bulb, the structure in the front of the brain that sends information to the other areas of the body's central command for further processing. Odors take a direct route to the limbic system, including the amygdala and the hippocampus, the regions related to emotion and memory.

Why is smell important in psychology? ›

The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. Those with full olfactory function may be able to think of smells that evoke particular memories; the scent of an orchard in blossom conjuring up recollections of a childhood picnic, for example.

How does smell affect mood and behavior? ›

A number of studies have shown that the odors people like make them feel good, whereas odors people dislike make them feel bad. These mood responses have also been reported physiologically.

How does smell trigger emotions? ›

Scents bypass the thalamus and go straight to the brain's smell center, known as the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb is directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus, which might explain why the smell of something can so immediately trigger a detailed memory or even intense emotion.

How does smell help mental health? ›

Smells experienced in nature improve wellbeing and mental health by making us feel more relaxed, joyful, and healthy. Smells experienced in nature, like smelling the rain or damp grass on a wet day, or smelling smoke coming from a fire whilst camping, can improve our mental health.

Why is smell a powerful sense? ›

According to Dr. Danoun, the power lies in the architecture of the brain. Our other senses travel through the thalamus (the communication hub of the brain). But smell goes directly to the brain's emotional center, including the areas responsible for processing emotion and memory.

Why do smells remind you of people? ›

Scientists believe that smell and memory are so closely linked because the anatomy of the brain allows olfactory signals get to the limbic system very quickly. Experts say the memories associated with smells tend to be older and thought about less often, meaning the recollection is very vivid when it happens.

Is scent related to personality? ›

People can accurately assess various personality traits of others based on body odor (BO) alone. Previous studies have shown that correlations between odor ratings and self-assessed personality dimensions are evident for assessments of neuroticism and dominance.

Can smells trigger anxiety? ›

“We know that anxiety disorders like PTSD can sometimes be triggered by smell, like the smell of diesel exhaust for a soldier,” says McGann who received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders for this research.

Can smells arouse someone? ›

“Our data suggest a positive influence of olfactory sensitivity on the sex life of young and healthy participants,” the researchers write. “The perception of body odors such as vaginal fluids, sperm and sweat seems to enrich the sexual experience” by increasing sexual arousal, they add.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lidia Grady

Last Updated: 25/11/2023

Views: 6020

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lidia Grady

Birthday: 1992-01-22

Address: Suite 493 356 Dale Fall, New Wanda, RI 52485

Phone: +29914464387516

Job: Customer Engineer

Hobby: Cryptography, Writing, Dowsing, Stand-up comedy, Calligraphy, Web surfing, Ghost hunting

Introduction: My name is Lidia Grady, I am a thankful, fine, glamorous, lucky, lively, pleasant, shiny person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.