Why You Favor One Fragrance Over Another

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Have you ever wondered why you love a certain perfume and want to get miles away from another? Even though it’s one of the body’s strongest sensory experiences, there is actually little medical knowledge of how we interpret smells and what makes us attracted to or repelled by certain scents.

It’s known that an odorant, which is a molecule that carries an odor, produces the experience that we call a fragrance, and it’s believed that each odorant has a specific shape. When these shapes come into contact with receptors in the nose, they play a virtual lock and key game: if the shape fits the receptor correctly, it transmits a positive signal to the brain, sending a message that the scent is favorable.

Much of how we respond to smell is through experience. The brain’s scent and emotion areas adjacent, so if a fragrance has a positive or negative memory associated with it, it will influence the way you “read” it.

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