How Scent Can Affect More Than Just Your Smell

Out of all five senses, smell is the most underrated. In fact, it is so underrated that a recent survey of young adults showed that just over half would rather lose their sense of smell than lose access to technology. But smell shouldn’t be taken for granted.

We all know that the ultimate function of smell is to allow us to perceive or detect odours and scents, but there’s far more to this sense than we can sniff out. Smell is actually a highly important function that directly impacts many more areas of our lives than we realise.

Feelings

Emotions can be strongly attached to certain smells. If there’s a smell you love such as your favourite food or a particular flower, there’s no doubt this smell will make you happy. But smells can spark many other feelings too such as vitality, relaxation or sadness, just to name a few.

Many of these feelings triggered by smells are also governed by association according to Fifth Sense, which essentially means that the emotions triggered are dependent on our own individual life experiences associated with that smell.

And then there are also smells that humans inherently find repugnant. That’s because these smells warn us of danger, such as rotten food or smoke for example. These smells may spark feelings of disgust, repulsion or even fear.

The connection between smell and feelings can’t be denied. Experiments conducted by the Social Research Centre have shown that all age groups experience positive mood effects from pleasant fragrances. The mere mention of a positive odour even boosted the overall mood of the subjects in this experiment.

Memory

Has a smell ever transported you to a specific time and place? The smell of a particular perfume could bring back memories of your late relative, or perhaps the scent of a particular flower instantly takes you back to beautiful gardens you explored with a loved one many years ago.

A recent article from House Call Doctor delves into how scents can reignite forgotten memories. The connection between smell and flashbacks to previous life events is called ‘odour-evoked autobiographical memory’ according to Doctor Amanda White, a research technologist at Penn State College of Medicine.

So what exactly is odour-evoked autobiographical memory and how does it work? SciShow explains that smell evokes early perceptive memories of events rather than conceptual memories, which means you are more likely to recall a sensation related to that memory rather than facts.

Recent studies have also shown that odour-cued memories often tend to be stronger, trigger more intense emotions and are based earlier in life than other memory cues, proving that smell plays a bigger role in our memory recall that previously thought.

Attraction

Can’t seem to find your soulmate? Consider trusting your sense of smell to point you in the right direction! Surprisingly enough, smell plays a vital role in finding a mate. Although scent is not something you consciously take note of in the dating scene, you may be surprised how much of a role it plays when it comes to attraction.

According to researchers, we all have a unique body odour that helps us detect a suitable match. Professor of neurobiology Doctor Noam Sobel explains that the theory behind the connection between smell and attraction is that we somehow select immune compatibility in a mate based on smell.

Finding compatible matches according to scent is now also becoming a legitimate option with ‘smell dating’ becoming a real life opportunity in New York, thanks to a new dating app that matches people by smell. The co-founder of smell dating says that this dating method is ‘about trusting subconscious intuition and not falling back on inevitable preconceptions and prejudices’.

Take Advantage of the Power of Scent

When you see the impact smell has on feelings, memory and attraction, it’s no wonder so many businesses are harnessing the power of fragrance.

Scent isn’t just about surrounding your customers with sweet smells to entice them into your store. It’s also about tapping into their feelings to evoke a specific mood or fond memory that reflects your brand message.

Companies like Scent Australia specialise in what is called Ambient Scenting. The process allows brands to develop an emotional connection with their customers. By diffusing fragrance in their environment brands can reinforce their identity and leave positive memories in their customers’ minds.