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Beauty is in the nose of the beholder. According to several surveys you can take that remark quite literally. But what some find an appealing perfume others might find repulsive. No wonder science took an interest in the psychology of fragrance. The secret is all in the nose that fires up your brain and which can detect thousands of different smells.


We made the word up, but it sums it up perfectly: the sensation you experience while smelling specific scents.
Imagine this: you get a whiff of a specific odour and suddenly you feel a little agitated but you can’t tell why that is. Or your nose picks up the scent of a freshly baked pie and it fills you up with warm and happy emotions. These emotional reactions often occur subconsciously and are triggered by memories that are connected to those smells.


Not really. You could very well sniff a perfume that unknowingly reminds you of your awful preschool teacher. The apple pie that tickled your positive brainwaves? Maybe it reminded you of the warm and funny woman your grandma was. Studies confirm that reactions to odours are stored in the emotional spectrum. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some fragrances may evoke strong reactions. Both positive and negative ones.

Increase attractiveness

Interesting is that fragrances can actually affect our perception of people and things as well. For example: a study showed that the average looking Jane and Joe are more likely to be seen as attractive when a nice fragrance is diffused in the air.

Same goes for products. Two identical shampoos were tested. In the first test run, the results were not great when it came to performance. However, after altering the perfume that same shampoo got raving reviews in the following test. It was perceived as foaming better, giving the hair more shine and easier to rinse out. Bullocks of course, but that is how scent can play with your brain.

And unfortunately it works both ways. An unpleasant aroma can influence our attitude and judgement in negative ways. All this is fascinating of course, but it leads us to an even more interesting concept:

Mood changer

Can sniffing a specific fragrance beat the blues? Studies involving placebos suggest that even the mention of an uplifting fragrance can slightly alter your spirits. But a tangible difference is only measured when it concerns the real deal. So yes, fragrances really can do something for your mood and businesses embrace this idea:

In store fragrances that delude your brain to trigger impulse buying? Enter any store, follow your nose and you’ll know if they apply the fragrance science. And even employers jump on the bandwagon: a company in Japan diffuses three different perfumes in their offices to mentally stimulate their people throughout the day. Citrus to invigorate in the morning, floral scents to boost concentration in the early afternoon and cedar to relieve tiredness after lunchtime.

scentsation psychologie fragrance blog

Natural mood enhancers

Listed below a list of natural mood boosters.

Lemon– the citrus fruit does actually stimulate productivity and alertness.
Vanilla– the warm and sweet aroma of vanilla brings positive vibes. Medical experiments have shown that the essence of vanilla reduces stress and anxiety. This probably is due to its calming properties. But not all pleasant fragrances work out positive. Galaxolide, a Musk like aroma, created the opposite effect when performing tasks: it took people twice as long to finish a project.
Lavender -possesses relaxing properties. Its aroma can slow down your heart rate and might help you unwind at bedtime.

2 scentsation psychologie fragrance blog

Jasmine – promotes a deeper and more restful sleep.
Mint  – invigorates the senses and makes you more productive.
Rosemary – Its fragrance may improve memory and the aroma of Bergamot –  holds purifying and anti-bacterial qualities.

There is reason we love creating beautiful products with wonderful fragrances, and now you know it too. Scent is a sensational sense that can make or break your day and influence your perceptions and emotions. May we suggest you fill your house with fragrance sticks and lovely scented candles, motivate you to shower with heavenly fragranced shower foams and wear perfume that will leave an unforgettable impression?

It will positively enrich your life. Something we have known for quite some time…

For a full transcript of the smell report by Kate Fox of the Social Issues Research Centre, follow this link: The Smell Report

This post is also available in: Dutch Spanish French German Swedish


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