People who smell good look more attractive

New research from the Monell Chemical Senses Center reveals that women’s faces are rated as more attractive in the presence of pleasant odours. In contrast, odour pleasantness had less effect on the evaluation of age. The findings suggest that the use of scented products such as perfumes may, to some extent, alter how people perceive one another.

Odour pleasantness and facial attractiveness integrate into one joint emotional evaluation,” said lead author Janina Seubert, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist involved in this work.

The current study design centered on the principle that judging attractiveness and age involve two distinct perceptual processing methods: attractiveness is regarded as an emotional process while judgments of age are believed to be cognitive, or rationally-based.

While evaluating the images, one of five odours was simultaneously released. These were a blend of fish oil (unpleasant) and rose oil (pleasant) that ranged from predominantly fish oil to predominantly rose oil. The subjects were asked to rate the age of the face in the photograph, the attractiveness of the face and the pleasantness of the odour. Across the range of odours, odour pleasantness directly influenced ratings of facial attractiveness. This suggests that olfactory and visual cues independently influence judgments of facial attractiveness. Jean-Marc Dessirier, Lead Scientist at Unilever and a co-author on the study said, “These findings have fascinating implications in terms of how pleasant smells may help enhance natural appearance within social settings. Download the paper here >> More related media coverage: