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, 7 (3), e33810

Psychology of Fragrance Use: Perception of Individual Odor and Perfume Blends Reveals a Mechanism for Idiosyncratic Effects on Fragrance Choice

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Psychology of Fragrance Use: Perception of Individual Odor and Perfume Blends Reveals a Mechanism for Idiosyncratic Effects on Fragrance Choice

Pavlína Lenochová et al. PLoS One.

Abstract

Cross-culturally, fragrances are used to modulate body odor, but the psychology of fragrance choice has been largely overlooked. The prevalent view is that fragrances mask an individual's body odor and improve its pleasantness. In two experiments, we found positive effects of perfume on body odor perception. Importantly, however, this was modulated by significant interactions with individual odor donors. Fragrances thus appear to interact with body odor, creating an individually-specific odor mixture. In a third experiment, the odor mixture of an individual's body odor and their preferred perfume was perceived as more pleasant than a blend of the same body odor with a randomly-allocated perfume, even when there was no difference in pleasantness between the perfumes. This indicates that fragrance use extends beyond simple masking effects and that people choose perfumes that interact well with their own odor. Our results provide an explanation for the highly individual nature of perfume choice.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: Yves Rocher, Optimum distribution CZ & SK and Fann Parfumery provided a material donation to this study. There are no patents, products in development or marketed products to declare. This does not alter the authors' adherence to all the PLoS ONE policies on sharing data and materials, as detailed online in the guide for authors.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Ratings of perfumed and non-perfumed body odors in Study 1.
Z-scored mean ratings (± SEM) of attractiveness, pleasantness and intensity in individual odor donors and for all donors together in non-perfume (empty bars) and perfume (shaded bars) conditions.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Ratings of perfumed and non-perfumed body odors in Study 2.
Z-scored mean ratings (± SEM) of attractiveness, pleasantness and intensity in individual odor donors and for all donors together in non-perfume (empty bars) and perfume (shaded bars) conditions.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Ratings of own and assigned pure perfumes in Study 3.
Z-scored mean ratings (± SEM) of pleasantness and intensity. Empty bars signify own and shaded bars assigned perfume.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Ratings of own and assigned perfume-body odor blends in Study 3.
Z-scored mean ratings (± SEM) of attractiveness, pleasantness and intensity of perfume-body odor blends in individual odor donors and for all donors together. Empty bars signify own and shaded bars assigned perfume-body odor blends.

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