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  • Jan Gleisner

Do you smell happy today?


Nonverbal communication comes in many forms and odor is one of those. While less explored it still matters. It's the olfactics of nonverbal communication.

Other areas of nonverbal communication like movements, distance and facial expressions are well covered in literature and on the internet. The matter of smell and scent is less covered, and less distinct too. But there are some interesting findings to share:

We do consider smell/scent when trying to understand each other. But the understanding is done through cultural filters, or more accurate: Most studies are done within specific cultures, not considering an international/crosscultural perspective. So what could be understood as repulsive odour within one culture may in another be understood as a scent of health - a sign of honest work. More studies are needed to find more universal nonverbal cues.

What is known is that humans, like a lot of animals and insects, produce pheromones that works for communication. The smell is so discrete that humans do not consciously notice it. But it reaches our minds and seems to help us identify our kins - pheromones works like ID-tags. Pheromones also helps us find someone to mate and build a couple with - there are studies that connects male pheromones with attraction and female menstruation cycle. The pheromones emitts from our armpits and through our sweat and urin.

There is also a connection between odor and mood. While some scents, lite perfumes, may make us feel a little happier others may make us feel sad. This phenomena is also used to manipulate our buying behavior (like the scent of a new car makes you feel a little happier about it). Our bodies also seems to emit scents themselves, according to some of our moods.

While intentional odors, like perfume, seems to be more hardwired to specific cultures, the pheromones seems to be more universal. Worth remembering when crossing the border next time. And if you want to feel a little happier today: Spray it on. Or sniff up the happiness of others.

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How about a tiny piece of theory?

#scent #smell #odor #olfactics #mood #identification #attraction #pheromones

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