Smell: People all over the world love the same scents

Whether a particular smell is pleasant depends more on the chemical composition of the substance than on cultural factors. That’s the conclusion of a working group led by Artin Archamyan of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm based on a study of 225 people from nine non-Western societies on three continents. As the team reports in Current BiologyWhile there were significant individual differences, there was also great global agreement on pleasant and pleasant smells. In contrast, different cultural backgrounds rarely play a role. The test subjects found vanillin to be the most pleasant, followed by ethyl butyrate, which smells like peach, and linalool, which smells like flower and spice.

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