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May 30, 2014 01:48 PM EDT

Pleasant Smells May Increase Facial Attractiveness

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Pleasant smells may increase a person's facial attractiveness, according to a recent study.

Researchers from Monell Chemical Senses Center found that men's faces are rated as more attractive in the presence of pleasant odors.  The findings suggest that the use of scented products such as perfumes may, to some extent, alter how people perceive one another, according to a press release.

"Odor pleasantness and facial attractiveness integrate into one joint emotional evaluation,"  Janina Seubert, lead author of the study and a cognitive neuroscientist who was a postdoctoral fellow at Monell at the time the research was conducted, said in a statement. "This may indicate a common site of neural processing in the brain."

For centuries, perfumes and scented products have been used as a way to enhance overall personal appearance.

For the study, researchers recruited 18 young adults, two thirds of whom were female, were asked to rate the attractiveness and age of eight female faces, presented as photographs. The images varied in terms of natural aging features.

While they were evaluating the images, one of five odors was simultaneously released. These were a blend of fish oil (unpleasant) and rose oil (pleasant) that ranged from predominantly fish oil to predominantly rose oil. The subjects were asked to rate the age of the face in the photograph, the attractiveness of the face and the pleasantness of the odor.

Researchers said that across the range of odors, odor pleasantness directly influenced ratings of facial attractiveness. This suggests that olfactory and visual cues independently influence judgments of facial attractiveness.

"These findings have fascinating implications in terms of how pleasant smells may help enhance natural appearance within social settings," Jean-Marc Dessirier, co-author of the study and lead scientist at Unilever, said in a statement. "The next step will be to see if the findings extend to evaluation of male facial attractiveness."

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