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PSYCHOLOGY

THE POWER OF FRAGRANCE ON HUMAN BEHAVIOUR By Tina Viney

OLFACTION, also known as sense of smell, is the most primal and mysterious of our six senses. Throughout our life our sense of smell has been a key to our survival. Did you know that you are capable of distinguishing thousands of unique odours? Smell is often the first warning of safety or danger, friend or foe. Smells have the power to drive your behaviour on an instinctive and subconscious level. Luckily, you can also harness the power of smell and consciously use it to your advantage. While smelling a delightful aroma can be a very pleasurable experience, new research is now able to scientifically measure the impact it has on our emotions and behaviour. As we are aware, fragrances are big business. Over the past 20 years International Flavours & Fragrances Inc. has been working to refine its methods of measuring both the subjective and the physiological effects of aromas and fragrances on emotions. They have developed a self-report method called Mood MappingTM that reliably measures the mood associations of aromas, whether simple ingredients, or finished fragrances in consumer products (Warrenburg, 2002). Understanding the power of aromas and how they influence behaviour has also been used to influence purchasing decisions. Several years ago, when I was selling my home, the real estate agent told me to place a couple of drops of vanilla on my kitchen hot plate and heat it slightly. He said that this little trick never fails as on entering the home, the women always comment on how warm and homely the house felt without knowing why. He told me that it helped create a memorable comforting association to those properties and made selling those homes so much easier.

TRIGGERING POSITIVE MEMORIES In his book Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust illustrates how smell is linked to early life experiences stored in memory engrams of specific neural-networks. Proust vividly describes how forgotten childhood memories are brought back into consciousness with their original intensity when the protagonist in his story dips a madeleine biscuit into a cup of tea. Researchers call this “Proustian memory effect.” Childhood

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memories linked to scent stay with people throughout life. Recently, Rachel Herz of Brown University, and Haruko Sugiyama and colleagues at the Kao Corporation in Japan, conducted a study to identify how the scent of a product evokes personal emotional memories and influences the appeal of a product to potential consumers. Researches are constantly investigating ways to identify how aromas can be used to evoke positive memories and motivate decisions. In my own life there are many aromas of my childhood that when I experience them today, evoke feelings of joy, hope and sheer pleasure. In my early years, I was privileged to live on a farm for two years where I was surrounded with the aromas of homegrown vegetables, fruit trees and flowers. Bread was freshly baked each week and to this day, even if I don’t eat a great deal of it, going past Brumby’s Bakery on a Saturday morning when freshly baked bread is placed on the shelves, evokes a deep sense of pleasure as it brings me back to my childhood with visions of my mother tapping the hot loaves to make sure they are suffciently cooked. Other fragrances that I cherish are the aromas of sweet pea, carnations, the delicate aroma of violets and the sweet, yet earthy smell of rose. There is something sickly sweet about artificial rose fragrances that are no match to the robust aroma of a fresh rose that is both delicate and earthy. This is why I still get the most pleasure from a genuine aromatherapy Damask Rose, where that earthy base note kicks in, reminding me of garden-fresh roses. The idiosyncrasies of smell-related perception are largely determined by prior learning and your personal history, but there are also cultural and geographic variations. i.e. In North America and Europe citrus scents are perceived as bright and happy smells, while lavender is perceived as calming. In Japan, jasmine is associated with a relaxed mood. Rose water is viewed as being an energising and happy scent. Having some knowledge about a given culture can help a perfumer predict the degree to which a specific fragrance will elicit personal memories. The individual intensity of Proustian memories evoked by a product’s fragrance is the prime driving force in motivating consumer behaviour. The more vivid the memories that a fragrance triggers, the higher the odds that someone will

Profile for APAN - Aesthetics Practitioners Advisory Network

APJ Vol 38 2018  

Aesthetics Practitioners Journal Volume 38 Spring 2018 - The official publication of the Aesthetics Practitioners Advisory Network (APAN)

APJ Vol 38 2018  

Aesthetics Practitioners Journal Volume 38 Spring 2018 - The official publication of the Aesthetics Practitioners Advisory Network (APAN)

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