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Wednesday, 23 March 2016 15:09

Love At First Whiff: How Body Scent Affects Attraction

Written by  Cheryl Mah
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Very often, we attribute physical attraction as the reason why we have an attraction to someone. However, our sense of smell is more powerful than we give it credit for. In fact, about 5% of the human genome exists to code and de-code smell, hence a person’s scent also plays a big part in determining why we are attracted to them.

Pheromones are chemical signals naturally released by our bodies which conveys information that triggers a response from other humans. These pheromones create the unique scent signature that we transmit that changes at different times and according to our emotions and sexual receptiveness. On a subconscious level, we are influenced by pheromones and this is why we find certain people more attractive than others.

A renowned study conducted by Universität Bern in Switzerland concluded that women had a preference for the scents of men who had very different major histocompatability genes (known as MHC) from them. MHC is part of the DNA that makes up our immune system and it is suggested that humans are inexplicably drawn to partners with a vastly different MHC framework. Biologically, this will give their offspring a bigger genetic advantage as their immune system would cover a wider variety of diseases. This explains why children born from incestuous relationships have a weaker immune system – their parents have MHC that are too similar.

Were you ever in a situation where two people are wearing the same scent, yet one of them seems to smell better to you than the other? The chemicals in a perfume can react with and alter a person’s natural scent. Despite wearing the same perfume, different people may send out different pheromones and therefore you may find that one person smells “better” than the other (likely to be the one you’re more attracted to).

Lastly, here’s an interesting trend about fragrance marketing - have you wondered why fragrance advertisements rely heavily on certain famous celebrities to promote their scent? Other than to establish brand identity, this helps to create an emotional fantasy on the part of the consumers. When a popular celebrity becomes an ambassador of a fragrance, he “transfers” his own personality and traits to the product and thus increases the sex appeal of the scent. On top of that, celebrity fragrance advertisements often also rely on sexual overtones to provoke consumers into buying the perfume so they will feel as if they are embodying the physical attractiveness of the celebrity ambassador.

Top left: Ian Somerhalder for Azzaro Pour Homme;
Top right: Keira Knightley for Coco Chanel Mademoiselle

Bottom left: Charlize Theron for Dior J'adore; Bottom right: Gerard Butler for Hugo Boss

That said, it doesn’t mean that you have to douse yourself in perfume in order to attract someone. A perfume or cologne should be used lightly to enhance your natural body scent. Imagine someone walking past you and smelling like he bathed in cologne or an aftershave lotion. It is usually more of a “turn-off” than if you were to catch a faint yet enticing whiff of his scent… this is what leaves you truly intoxicated.

 

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