The link between scent and mood can be explained by the fact that our sense of smell is connected to the limbic system of the brain, which plays a key role in regulating mood and memory. Now that you understand why fragrance can help you feel good and even more confident on your big date, let’s explore the secrets between fragrance and mood.
The perception of smell includes not only the sensation of the smell itself, but also the experiences and emotions associated with these sensations. Smells can cause strong emotional responses. In surveys of odor responses, findings show that most of our likes and dislikes about smell are based purely on emotional associations.
The connection between scent and emotion is not an invention of poets or perfumers. Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, the oldest and most primitive part of the brain thought to be the seat of emotion. Only after being stimulated in the deepest parts of our brain is the sense of smell passed to the cortex, where “cognitive” recognition occurs. So when we correctly name a specific smell, such as “vanilla,” the smell has activated the limbic system, triggering a deeper emotional response.
Almost all odors produce some sensation on the human trigeminal nerve. For example, smelling peppermint has a refreshing feeling; smelling eucalyptus and rosemary has a refreshing feeling. In addition, if there is a genetic variation, it may be due to a birth defect, “specific anosmia” and the inability to smell specific odors. Or the loss of the sense of smell following an illness leading to a change in odor
The positive emotional impact of a pleasant scent can also influence how we view other people. In experiments, subjects exposed to pleasant scents tended to give higher “attractiveness ratings” to the people in the photos, although some recent research suggests these effects only occur when there is some ambiguity in the photos. It’s only noticeable below. If a person is obviously very beautiful, or extremely ugly, the scent does not influence our judgment. But if the person is just “average,” a pleasant scent will tip the balance of our evaluations in his or her favor. So the pretty models used in perfume ads might not need it, but the rest of us regular folks might benefit from a spritz or two of something delightful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Bad smells can also affect our perceptions and evaluations. In one study, the presence of a bad smell not only led subjects to rate the person being photographed lower, but also to rate the painting as less professional.
The mood-enhancing effects of pleasant smells may not always work in our favor: By enhancing our positive perceptions and moods, pleasant smells may influence our judgment. In an experiment at a Las Vegas casino, when the casino emitted a pleasant aroma, bets on slot machines increased by over 45%!
In conclusion, fragrance can affect our mood in many ways. It can trigger memories, trigger specific emotional responses, affect how we think about ourselves, and influence the moods of those around us. We choose fragrances that transport us into different emotional states, whether through the energizing notes of citrus, the calming notes of florals, or the grounding notes of woody perfumes. By understanding how different smells affect our emotions and choosing fragrances that resonate with us, we can harness the power of scent to enhance our overall wellbeing and create positive experiences in our daily lives.