Among the five senses, olfaction, or your sense of smell, gets the least respect. Sight, taste, and touch seem to deserve a higher spot in the sense tier, but the truth is, science says otherwise.
The sense of smell is equally just as important, and we’re not just saying this because we’re a perfume company – the role that scent plays in our emotions, day-to-day decisions, and memories are just too important to ignore.
Here are five surprising ways your sense of smell impacts your day-to-day life.
1. Scents influence your memory.
Of all our senses, the sense of smell is one that truly connects to memory. How many times have you come across a whiff of something that instantly takes you back to an old memory? Be it your lover’s perfume or the scent of your mother’s pie baking in the oven, scent triggers memories while making us relive experiences.
Previous studies have shown that people can remember a scent accurately (up to 65% of the time) even after one year, while visual memory massively drops to 50% in just a few months.
2. Scents have a powerful impact on emotions.
In one scientific study, an experimental group smelled different plants and rated their alertness, calmness, and mood while also rating the scent's pleasantness.
Participants who smelled plants rated themselves as having a better mood, calmness, and alertness compared to a control group. The study showed smells, especially when natural, can improve one’s overall emotional functioning.
3. Scents warp your perception of time.
In one scientific study, participants were made to smell lavender and garlic. Those who took a whiff of the garlic reported reduced perception of time, while those smelling lavender produced a longer perception of time. In other words, scents can warp your perception of time and make it feel longer or shorter.
4. Scents have a big effect on your productivity.
Can’t seem to get yourself in the right state of mind to work? Spraying on a revitalizing scent, like citrus and aquatic fragrances, may help spur you into being a workhorse. Specific smells have been researched to increase alertness and influence productivity rates.
One study, in particular, discovered that ‘pleasant, floral green’ fragrances reduced the stress levels of subjects performing a mental arithmetic task. So the next time you’re wracking your head over calculus, a spritz of Elizabeth Arden Green Tea might help.
See Related: 5 Fragrance Notes for Better Productivity
5. Scents have a strong relationship with your taste buds.
Taste and flavor are different. While your mouth tastes food, it’s your sense of smell that affects flavor. Hence, those who lose their sense of smell when sick often lack the ability to experience the flavor of food.
When one eats, odors from the food travel to the nose which processes the odors through receptor cells at the nasal cavity. This is called ‘retronasal olfaction’. Eating is essential to human survival, but it’s our sense of smell that allows us to enjoy the culinary.