The Myth of the Relationship Between Scent and Attractiveness

The Myth of the Relationship between Scent and Attractiveness
Researches have shown physical attractiveness is not solely dependent upon the visual aspects of appearance but is often modulated by other sensory cues as well. While the importance of the sense of smell in social interactions and behavior of animals is well known, olfaction has often been thought to be of minor relevance to primates in general and humans in particular. However, social psychology research has demonstrated that people tend to rate other people more positively when in the presence of a pleasant ambient fragrance (Demattè, Österbauer, & Spence, 2007). Indeed, the personal use of fragrance should be considered as an integral part of one’s image management, with different fragrances being chosen for different occasions. Nowadays, wearing perfume and cologne is a popular way humans attempt to attract mates. Our group is interested in investigating the relationship between scent and attractiveness. Currently, there are three specific questions that we would like to explore.
First of all, we would like to know whether an odor can influence a person’s judgment of another person’s physical attractiveness when assessed visually. Research by Wedekind, Seebeck, Bettens, and Paepke has shown that a man’s major histocompatibility complex will, to a certain extent, determine the attractiveness of his bodily odor to females (Demattè, Österbauer, & Spence, 2007). Research by Herz and colleagues even suggests that body odor may be as, if not more, important than all other physical attractiveness cues, including visual (Demattè, Österbauer, & Spence, 2007). For example, Herz and Inzlicht showed that, on average, women report that how men smell is the most important physical criterion for choosing someone as a potential lover. In a book chapter by Kirk-Smith and Booth, the authors found that in the presence of a perfume (the brand Shalimar), both men and women rated half-torso clad...