Our daily life is made up of smells, we don’t always realize it. The smell of the clean, of cut grass, of hot bread coming out of the bakery oven, of the perfume of those who are dear to us … The world is full of smells.
These smells can give pleasure or annoy, make you hungry or on the contrary satiate. Olfaction also contributes to the perception of taste when we eat, hence the unpleasant impression of people who have lost their sense of smell due to Covid.
To feel to know
Studies show how vision or hearing influences mental life. We are not at all aware of the major role of olfaction on our behavior. Olfaction is presented as an ancient sense, inherited from our ancestors, and little developed in primates. However, today the latter, and therefore also man, have retained a certain number of cutaneous glands which secrete odors as well as a very good olfactory sensitivity.
This sensitivity makes it possible to use this information whether it is for reproduction or for very important behaviors such as for the baby who has just been born, and, which thanks to the smell of breast milk will crawl when it is on the belly of its mother to the breast to go to breastfeed for the very first time … From this point of view, primates have nothing to envy to dogs or rats who have a very effective nose!
The smell of stress or anxiety …
Even if the man is not aware of everything he smells, the smells around him seem to influence without his knowledge, a large part of his behavior. Man has a very good olfactory memory, and a smell can bring back very old memories to his memory.
It is the famous Madeleine dear to Proust. But, olfaction not only serves to evoke memories, it also guides, without being aware of it, the attraction or the aversion towards people or situations.
A large number of studies carried out in particular by Jasper de Groot’s team in the Netherlands reveal the capacity that humans have to communicate fear, stress or even anxiety, in a totally involuntary and unconscious manner, to through the smell of the body. It is also said of some people that they have flair, or a thin nose, or a hollow nose, this undoubtedly covers a scientific reality!
Fear, a more or less strong smell
Experiments carried out in the same laboratory aimed to offer more or less frightening films to subjects while their skin secretions and therefore their body odor were analyzed. The results show that not only in a fear situation the subjects produced a specific odor, but in addition that this odor signal also encodes the intensity of the fear.
The more we are afraid, the more important these secretions are and the more their chemical components are volatile. Like other animals, man probably informs people around him of a very important danger. It is for this reason that some say in front of a risky situation that it smells bad!
Smells can convey information about fear, but can also convey more positive information. Usually we rely on vision or hearing to pick up signals of joy such as smiling or laughing. This is also very effective, since seeing or hearing someone laugh is often contagious. Some people “breathe happiness” … Don’t they rather breathe happiness!
Jasper de Groot’s team has shown that cutaneous secretions taken and the smells of happy people sprayed on control subjects will show signs equivalent to joy on these control subjects. It is almost like offering a sniff of happiness, and obviously it’s effective.
The smell of lavender and its power
Certain scents can also give confidence, and this is undoubtedly the case with lavender.
The scent of lavender, which grandmothers naively put between piles of laundry in their closets, could well be a formidable argument to induce a feeling of confidence in those who breathe it. Initial studies had shown that the scent of lavender can facilitate a person’s integration into a social group and even allow better collaboration between individuals.
The same research team in the Netherlands tested the power of lavender in young women. While these women were subjected to a video game with a partner, they either smelled of lavender, consciously, or lavender masked by cloves, to study the impact of lavender without their knowledge, or only of the nail of cloves.
Lavender, whether perceived consciously or unconsciously, altered the degree of confidence that participants had in their partner. This study is not unique in its kind but if photos of individuals are shown to know the degree of trust in these people, you will more easily trust your trust if you perceive a scent of lavender at the same time.
In the future, beware of people who are scented with lavender and who insist on selling you something you don’t need. From now on, get closer to happy people to breathe their happiness!