Aromas make us feel something - there’s no denying that. But just how much can they impact our moods? How does it all work? Our bodies, nose, brain - they’re all intricate parts we’ve been trying to figure out for as long as we’ve been around.
Quite simply, it’s all so wonderfully primitive
The way our brains associate smells and emotions is nothing new. It’s deep-wired in the body, right down our receptors. Specifically our olfactory receptors, linked directly to the limbic system - a primitive part of the brain thought to be the home for our emotions. (It’s kind of a big deal - there is actually no other sensory system that has this kind of link with the neural areas of emotion and associative learning.) Fragrances and smells get passed to the cortex where they’ll be identified, once they’ve stimulated all the deepest parts of the brain. By the time the brain has recognised the scent, it’s already activated the body’s emotional response to the fragrance. Positive fragrances can help us feel more productive when it comes to creative problem solving, while obnoxious or unpleasant odors can hinder our focus and distract the body.
We associate fragrances with learned emotions from an early age
According to Rachel S. Herz, an assistant professor of psychology at Brown University, most of our responses to fragrances are learned as children. Any time a new smell is introduced, our associative learning mechanisms step in to determine the perception of that fragrance. It’s part of why we all have different reactions to smells, because over time we’ve all learned to associate them with different feelings. Preferences are a dime a dozen and the result of personal experiences, it’s hard to change someone’s feelings on the matter, since it’s wired in the brain and central emotion station.
You can use the placebo effect of fragrances to your advantage
We underestimate the power of the mind. Although there’s substantial evidence about how your moods interact with scents, some of the mood-lifting can also be associated with our own expectations of a good experience from a particular scent. Popularly known as the placebo effect. Our emotions can subconsciously run the show, letting us believe we feel lifted, for no reason other than the fact that we really enjoy a special fragrance. We can’t help it, the thought of a pleasant smell lifts our spirits - so think of it as something to take advantage of next time you’re having a grey day.
Get in touch with our Auravera Parfumier or take our perfume personality quiz to find out how your body will respond to the perfect perfume for you.