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A new scientific study claims to have confirmed the most universally-loved smell… and it’s a bit vanilla.
The research also found that people tend to love and loathe the same odours, with sweaty feet and cheese being among the least-liked scents.
Interestingly, the study – conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and University of Oxford – noted cultural background doesn’t influence people’s response to smells as much as once thought.
A total of 235 people took part in the study, and the sweet scent of vanilla came out on top when participants were tasked with ranking different smells.
According to the research, which was published in scientific journal Current Biology, most important to humans’ response to smell is the structure of an odour molecule.
Nine groups of people took part in the study and came from different lifestyles, however discrepancies between their responses were few and far between, demonstrating that participants’ responses to scents were less influenced by their cultural background.
Those who took part included both hunter-gatherers and urban dwellers.
Doctor Artin Arshamian, one of the study’s researchers, said the findings show ‘odour preferences are personal not cultural’.
He said, as per The Metro: “Cultures around the world rank different odours in a similar way no matter where they come from, but odour preferences have a personal – although not cultural – component.
“We wanted to examine if people around the world have the same smell perception and like the same types of odour, or whether this is something that is culturally learned.
“Traditionally it has been seen as cultural, but we can show that culture has very little to do with it.”
The study summarises: “Humans share sensory systems with a common anatomical blueprint, but individual sensory experience nevertheless varies.
“Culture explained only 6% of the variance in pleasantness rankings, whereas individual variability or personal taste explained 54%.”
The study concludes: “[All research] taken together, this shows human olfactory perception is strongly constrained by universal principles.”
It’s been an intriguing few years for noses across the globe, with the release of Gwyneth Paltrow’s £58, vagina-scented candle in 2020 and Heinz’s Aussie Sausage Sizzle Scented Candle last month.
Released in a three-pack set that also includes an Aussie Backyard BBQ scent alongside the Seriously Good Garlic Lovers Aioli, it’s safe to say our nostrils have had a rollercoaster few months.
Lest we forget French perfume brand Etat Libre d’Orange’s Sécrétions Magnifiques fragrance, which upsettingly claims to smell of ‘blood, sweat, sperm and saliva’.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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