June 21, 2024

Do scents control mating behavior? This is what science says

Neuropsychologist Ilona Croy, who researches olfactory communication at the University of Jena, prefers to talk about “socially relevant smells” because they do not elicit a uniform reaction in people: “We have a lot of cognitive superstructure for that.” However, people react to such socially relevant smells at least “differently,” Croy says. At the University of Düsseldorf, psychologist Bettina M. Bose on the topic “Smell and Emotion”. In one experiment, I had students wear cotton pads under their armpits before an exam.

The smell of “fear cotton” elicited a pattern of reactions of fear, interest, focus, and empathy in others. “Chemical fear signals are able to transmit emotions from one person to another,” says Bose in the non-fiction book, “It’s All a Matter of Smell.” “In other words, fear is contagious.” Infection also occurs through the nose. Exactly how this happens remains unclear.

“People cannot clearly identify scent samples with a particular emotion or personality trait,” notes Croy. The smell will leave a more “overall overall impression”: if we smell another person, we can’t say that he or she is in control, or a little nervous, or a vegetarian, for example. “But we can classify smells as pleasant and less pleasant.” Fragrance samples in which the donor is healthy and not stressed or anxious are often described as “likable.”

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