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  1. #1
    N_Tesla's Avatar
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    Question Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    Perhaps most basic in human response to olfactory stimuli is that bad smells usually meant food had gone bad and that the smell instinctively is a warning. The other response may have been a response by males to a change in body odor due to ovulation in females, a response that may or may not be lacking in humans. Civilized society now considers smelling good to be an accessory in fashionable man or women. There certainly is good reason to believe that smelling attractive makes one more readily accepted in close proximity to others and likely sends the message that one is hygienic wishes to attract positive attention and wishes others to be comfortable with his or her presence. Beyond this what drives the truly devoted in a lifetime search for the holy grail of scent? Is it a response to primal drives or something of that combined with cultural and/or artistic tendencies in humans?




    I smell good, therefore I am.
    Last edited by N_Tesla; 16th February 2010 at 12:29 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    Oh so true…I agree with you wholeheartedly! While I cannot put my finger on the specific data at the moment, I believe it is a significant hypothesis that the primal association with how a potential mate smells with their overall health and ability to reproduce successfully, is a direct limbic trigger for our desire for perfumery or pleasurable olfactory stimulation unrelated to eating.

    I also am a believer that what we term “chemistry” with someone, is subtly influenced by how one smells, and comes full circle to that same ‘healthy aura’ that we perceive in someone.
    Last edited by Nymphaea; 16th February 2010 at 01:20 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    No kidding about that smell part. I won't date a girl if somehow I smelled her up close and she does not smell "right" to me. And I don't mean with her perfume selection; I mean how she smells with minimally scented product. :P
    Q: How do you make a feminine fragrance masculine?
    A: Add 'Pour Homme' to the bottle
    - Pierre Bourdon

  4. #4

    Default Re: Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    Good post, Nick. The olfactory connection in humans is far more powerful than we let on. Smelling like sweat is not appropriate unless someone is with a mate/spouse or a lover. (Then, in many case, its a turn-on!)

    Perhaps sweatsmelling bad, the product of physical exertion and the inability to wash, was associated with the lower class labourers, and was therefore undesirable. BTW, class always enters into what is desired--as in luxury goods, real estate, perfume, etc. The suntan was shunned prior to the mid-19th century, as it was a sign of an outdoor worker. Being indoors and pale was associated with the upper classes. It was only until the Industrial Revolution, which sent lower class workers into indoor factories, than the suntan was a mark of outdoor leisure status: swimming, outdoor pursuits (continuing riding and carriage driving), tennis playing, etc.

    Overall, I find people like food scents (gourmands like vanilla) or florals. Vanilla is a very popular note, as are, of course, florals.

    At this point in Western history, it is considered good grooming to bathe and wear scent. (I hasten to add non-Western cultures have bathed for centuries. ) BTW, George Brummell, at the beginning of the 19th century, popularised regular bathing for men, and also the wearing of clean linen (shirts and underwear). I seem to recall he also used a "dentifrice"--brushed his teeth. He despised perfume, however. Less than two decades later, the Comte d'Orsay popularised the use of perfumes for men, while still adhering to the fashion for bathing and clean linen--in fact, taking perfumed baths.
    Last edited by Primrose; 13th March 2010 at 03:06 PM.
    "No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this." Desert Rose by Sting and Cheb Mami, Album 1999.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    pleasurable olfactory stimulation unrelated to eating--------------actually... if it's about FRAGRANCES, few people, most of them "advanced perfume geeks" enjoy fragrances that smell like something they wouldn't put in their mouth.

    Same goes for human odour, mostly. I figure that if you imagine you kiss that someone you feel attracted sexually, therefore, olfactory. So, it implies to taste him/her, somehow.
    "Diego: Why did you do that? you could've died trying to rescue me.
    Manfred: That's what you do in a herd: you look out for each other. " (Ice Age)

  6. #6

    Default Re: Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    One thing about smell that is really cool is that the olfactory sense is the only sense that does not go through the thalamus (or the brain's sensory gateway) before it gets to the deeper brain regions. This is thought to be part of why scents are so indescribable. (though of course on basenotes there is a lot of describing). It is also thought to be why scents can work a strongly unconscious levels. Any time that you have a 'bad feeling' about someone, it could be because of certain scents they are letting off that your conscious brain doesn't even register. There are also neurological reasons that scents can directly and quickly activate memories.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    A biology teacher of mine suggested that the fragrance industry is (indirectly though) solely "a product of instinct"... and nothing more, meaning that the entire fragrance industry is no art and no innovation, but just a very basic and primitive craft or science at best, clumsily trying to replicate very low and very simple, in-your-face, matter-of-fact smells and sensations usually associated with our lowest drives and needs: sexual attraction, a non-metaphysical and unsentimental blunt sense of security, relaxation and well being etc., yet nothing more than this...
    HOWEVER, I think that this opinion is either wrong or imprecise, since cultural and social norms have defined and described "smelling good" as something WAY beyond any strictly physical impulse, triggering associations, values, satisfactions, even ideals with NO immediate biological counterpart or motivation.
    Last edited by Ken_Russell; 20th February 2010 at 11:52 AM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    I personally think that the reason we scourer for our holy grail scents is that it associates as a stimulate...obviously of a apposite preference. For me...A perfume concludes and recapitulates all of the most halcyon intimacies I could ever ask for!!
    I crave it because I feel that tidbit better...It could even evaluate other peoples pathos which indeed is a mutual circumstance!

    So for me...A perfume can make one live...survive and strive!!

    It's Magic!!

    - Balava
    - I Want To Appreciate You With My Eyes Closed-

    - Anonymous

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    Chanel Antaeus Equipped With A Double Whipping Of A Black Leather Jacket

  9. #9
    Olfacta's Avatar
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    Default Re: Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    The smell scientist Dr. Avery Gilbert, author of "What the Nose Knows," has a blog called "First Nerve" on which he discusses recent research on olfaction, among other things. Apparently there is more cognitive involvement than was once believed, and good research involving actual images of the brain (fMRI or "functional MRI") to illustrate that thesis. While smell is "tracked" differently from the other senses in the brain, it's not entirely primitive. All interesting stuff.
    Olfacta
    also at http://olfactarama.blogspot.com
    Musings and random thoughts about the genie in the bottle

  10. #10

    Default Re: Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    The ability to discern scent is a primal instinct that has been shaped by our human genes and by our culture. Moreover, I maintain that there are those of us who embrace more of our primal roots than others: Standup fans of civet, amber, cumin and other animal-based scents; these are the scents that excited our ador millions of years ago; these are the scents that made survival as a species possible; these are the scents that bring it all home today: Jicky; Kouros; Dedji, Onde and all the others.

    Sorry, Pineapple-Apricot-Grapefruit-Cranberry-Chocolate-Coffee oficiandos----these just don't ring the same bells for our species.


    It's not the scent that recalls the person; it's the person who recalls the scent.
    LaNose

  11. #11
    Olfacta's Avatar
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    Default Re: Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    [QUOTE=N_Tesla;1751422]Perhaps most basic in human response to olfactory stimuli is that bad smells usually meant food had gone bad and that the smell instinctively is a warning. The other response may have been a response by males to a change in body odor due to ovulation in females, a response that may or may not be lacking in humans."

    Newer research indicates that ovulating females rate (the sweaty t-shirts of) males differently from women who are not ovulating. The results are a little murky but, apparently, ovulating females can "sniff out" specimen males exhibiting genetic qualities like symmetry. I'm sure there will be more work done on this one!
    Olfacta
    also at http://olfactarama.blogspot.com
    Musings and random thoughts about the genie in the bottle

  12. #12

    Default Re: Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    [QUOTE=PB101;1776874]
    Quote Originally Posted by N_Tesla View Post
    Perhaps most basic in human response to olfactory stimuli is that bad smells usually meant food had gone bad and that the smell instinctively is a warning. The other response may have been a response by males to a change in body odor due to ovulation in females, a response that may or may not be lacking in humans."

    Newer research indicates that ovulating females rate (the sweaty t-shirts of) males differently from women who are not ovulating. The results are a little murky but, apparently, ovulating females can "sniff out" specimen males exhibiting genetic qualities like symmetry. I'm sure there will be more work done on this one!
    My DH is going on a short business trip, and I love sleeping on his pillow with the scent of his skin on the sheets. I recall him telling me that he dated a women once and was turned off, stating she smelled like his mother.

    This makes sense *not* breed/mate with a woman who smells like a mother (too much consanguineity) and thereby not enough genetic variation.

    I think this is a good reason why women and other female family members should not wear the same perfumes as it sends the wrong subconscious signals.
    Last edited by Primrose; 13th March 2010 at 03:11 PM.
    "No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this." Desert Rose by Sting and Cheb Mami, Album 1999.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Basic Human Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli

    Quote Originally Posted by N_Tesla View Post
    The other response may have been a response by males to a change in body odor due to ovulation in females, a response that may or may not be lacking in humans.
    I think that is 'quatsch'. Human sexuality is for sure decoupled from reproduction by lengths. Sex is fun - period; pun not intended.


    Quote Originally Posted by N_Tesla View Post
    Civilized society now considers smelling good to be an accessory in fashionable ... sends the message that one is hygienic wishes to attract positive attention and wishes others to be comfortable with his or her presence. Beyond this what drives the truly devoted in a lifetime search for the holy grail of scent? Is it a response to primal drives or something of that combined with cultural and/or artistic tendencies in humans?
    A very good one. I had thoughts like that when we discussed recent 'niche' and 'true niche' and 'artisan' concepts. I've found a schism between elitist fragrance and some kind of a functional 'fine fragrance' for 'the masses'. The latter should serve exactly that needs which You describe above.

    If a 'true niche artisan' differentiates against 'the masses' what is he after? I think it is to participate in the world of consume in the first place. But in the luxury niche. An appetite for being unique, an individual, some users tend to reach for superiority by fragrance, I guess.

    I myself have always had a love for smells. And I've ever hated the roaring cacophony of trivial functional fragrances all around. Mitsouko showed me some fun with alternating olfactory impressions. Tamed tops etc, the C14 aldehyde somewhere between dairy, peach and spice. Besides of curiosity I'm not on the run for a holy grail. My eagerness goes the other direction: how to avoid functional fragrance.

    btw: I bought me tooth paste with strawberry aroma last week. What about lavender?
    Last edited by merry.waters; 14th March 2010 at 06:33 AM.

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