Image: Jo Malone’s Red Roses (supplied)
We all know scent is the sense most tied to memory, but it turns out fragrance also plays a big role in how you think about the here and now.
At least, that is, if the ‘here and now’ is a person whose age and attractiveness you’re assessing.
A new study by Janina Seubert, who was a research fellow at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, has found that people perceive human faces as more attractive when they are associated with pleasant smells.
Researchers showed a subjects photographs of eight different women. As the subjects looked at the photos, researchers released five different smells, ranging from fish oil (ew) and to rose oil (mmm…)
Subjects were asked to rate the attractiveness of the faces they were looking at, and the pleasantness of the scent they smelled.
The study found that whenever the subjects liked what they smelled, they were far more likely to rate the photographs they were seeing as attractive.
The study was extremely small, testing only 18 people using only eight photographs. Of the 18 subjects, two thirds were women. This is not what we call a ‘reliable sample size’… but it still sounds like a pretty epic excuse to stock up on bottles of Jo Malone Red Roses to us.
Weirdly, the study also found that nice smells helped sharpen the subjects’ perception of age. When the subjects were exposed to a gross smell, they thought the women in the photographs they were looking at were closer in age, while when they were smelling something pleasant, they were more susceptible to noticing things like wrinkles, or a youthful face.
So, fragrances can be used as a beautifier, but if it’s an anti-aging smell you’re after, you are better off standing next to a garbage can, apparently.