Excellent article, Chris. Based on the stages you discuss, I seem to follow into the second stage. When I pick what to wear a particular day I try to match it to the environment I'll be in, the clothes I'll wear and the mood I want to be in. The struggle for me comes from the latter - the mood. Sometimes I pick something that I think would smell great and would put me in just the right mental state. Then, 2 hours later I change my mind and I start thinking: maybe a sandalwood would have been better in this rainy weather; vetiver doesn't really work for me right now, it's too nostalgic and that's not how I feel.
I've noticed that we usually associate certain notes with certain moods and I think this is true for all people. The difference is that first-stagers have not realized this trait, while the second-stagers may have. For me, for example, vetiver is nostalgic, sandalwood is warm-cozy, citrus is happy, incense is contemplative. When I pick a scent I think of what I'll be mostly doing today and what would put in the right mood for my day. If I'm going to a coffee shop to think about the meaning of life and read Viktor Frankl, I'll probably wear CdG's Kyoto because of its incense and coffee notes. If I'm going for a swim in the morning and want to unpretentiously lounge by the pool after, I would probably wear something citrussy like Eau D'Orange Verte.
I would love to see your article expanded. There are so many nuances and stages of being stage 2 and beyond. Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez allude to some of them in their perfume guide. Briefly they talk about how first you get obsessed by fragrances in general and you buy everything you get your hands on; then you get into the niches and avantgarde scents; then you realize that even dollar store scents are not bad at all. It would be great to expand on the idea of how we select scents.