Aromas and the emotional effect
Many times when you purchase a perfume, you base the purchase on the fact that the fragrance appeals to you. But have you ever wondered why? What is reason that certain scents make you like them more or less?
There is no doubt that advertising affect us to a certain extent. Many fashion houses launch new perfumes each year and the competition on the market is high. Using celebrities in ad campaigns such as Marylin Monroe, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Megan Fox, just to mention a few, or organizing big promotions for new product launches, are some of the ways to entice consumers to buy perfumes and are important steps of marketing. Many people are often affected by the advertising in media, and will make a purchase just because of the sake of it. This is something that both fashion houses and advertising agencies are well aware of and is really not newsflash.
The flanker of a perfume may also be another reason for you to buy a certain fragrance. What most people don´t know is that designers are often hired by high-end houses to create a stunning piece of art. Even the quality of the bottle has to be of high standard. A luxurious fragrance simply has to have an equal luxurious bottle. If the ad campaign and flanker appeals to you, then chances are that you most likely will buy the perfume.
However, there is another, and probably the most important fact, that no one and nothing will affect: your own sense of smell. No matter how beautiful the perfume bottle may be or whoever is in the campaign, if a certain scent does not appeal to you, you will end up not buying the fragrance. Simple as that. The reason to this, however, is rather complex, and needs to be explained in order to understand how our sense of smell works.
The scientific explanation
The most important and crucial part in the selection of perfume, is the emotional effect a scent has on you. All people have a personal love for a certain type of scent. This has to do with the connection between the sense of smell and the brain. Scents can trigger emotions without you even thinking about it, and affect both your body and health. Aromas can affect everything from increased energy and improved immune system, stimulate hormone production to affecting our mood and feelings.
The explanation lies in the fact that when you inhale the scent it stimulates that part of the brain where emotional memories are stored and taste is analyzed. It may include a scent that when you the last time inhaled were at a joyful time, and when several years later smell the same scent, you will be transferred immediately to the memory of that time. This is because of our five senses, smell is the only one that is directly linked to the emotional part of the brain that control emotions such as joy, anger, fear, anxiety and depression.
There have been several studies to understand the link between smell, emotions and health. Another good example regarding scent´s power and affect is Lavender. According to research at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Lavender has a calming and relaxing effect when inhaled.
Other studies made by researchers at the University of Vienna and Berlin have found that the substance sesquiterpene found in essential oils such as Sandalwood, Frankincense, Patchouli, Vetiver and Cedar, can increase the brain's oxygen content as much as 28%. This in itself can contribute to a functioning and improved immune system, learning ability, and increased energy. Scents also stimulate the part of the brain that manages stress, heart rate, blood pressure and hormonal balance. The link between our sense of smell and our brain is a whole science, so let us go further in detail.
The limbic system
As we mentioned earlier, when we inhale a scent we are immediately transferred to a previous time and place in our memory that reminds us of the last time we smelled the same scent.
The explanation for this is that our sense of smell is closely linked to our emotions and memories. We have the ability to make use of our language to describe our experiences in life, but unfortunately there are some areas where our language is lacking. This is particularly true in areas affected by our basic senses such as smell and taste.
The reason why we humans have not evolved in these areas is complex and not yet fully understood by scientists, but one of the main reasons is thought to be that these senses are closer to the deep primitive parts of our brain than those in our descriptive language centers.
Our sense of smell, and to a certain extent, the taste, is nested in the primitive parts of our brain, known as "limbic system". These primitive parts of the brain enter our consciousness and therefore have a direct impact on our moods, our emotions and inner longings. These feelings are so deep in our brain and are so primitive, that we only become aware of them when they communicate with our higher senses. Since the limbic system is not well understood by science yet, we are actually not able to say much more about the primitive parts other than what features they have and what effect they have on us.
The olfactory bulb (the nasal olfactory area) is considered as part of the limbic system and is very close to those areas of the brain responsible for emotions, memory, fear and wellbeing, as well as the sensual and sexual response. This also includes the Hypothalamus (controls blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, etc.), the Amygdala (controls fear, aggression, peace and longing), the Hippocampus (responsible for the formation of new memory), the Septum (controls the sexual response) and the Cingulate gyrus (controls memory linking).
Studies have shown that when we breathe in the scent, the memories and emotions are awakening and further regulated through the Hypothalamus to other parts of the brain and body. These signals are transformed and turned into action. The result can be e.g. soothing, stimulating, relaxing, increased brain activity when awake, and so on. In other words, a fragrance has an instant effect that cannot be analyzed rationally.
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