Exploring the power of scent to affect our moods

We have all been moved by the power of scent in our lives. Whether it's a smell that brings back fond memories from childhood, or one that instantly changes the feeling of a room, we recognize the power that scent has to affect us. It triggers certain emotional responses with a lasting intensity, more so than our other senses do. 

To understand the connection between scent and emotion, we need to talk about an important part of the brain, called the hippocampus. The hippocampus, part of a network called the limbic system and one of the most studied parts of the brain, is associated with the processes of feelings and reacting. The hippocampus is also where we store memory. 

 Since smell processing is also closely related to the hippocampus, scents and emotions are tightly intertwined. Our sense of smell is constantly taking us somewhere. As we journey in and out of memories and along with them, it invokes a range of emotions that tie to our present situation in either clear or very subtle ways.

How scents affect us is based on what is known as associative learning, the process by which one event or item comes to be linked to another because of an individuals past experiences. The linked event is then able to elicit a conditioned response for the original situation. 

A number of studies have shown that the scents people like make them feel good, whereas scents people dislike make them feel bad. These mood responses have also been reported physiologically. For example, skin conductance, heart-rate and eye-blink rates in response to various liked or disliked scents coincide with the mood the person is experiencing.

Downstream from how scents influence our moods is the way that moods influence how we think (cognition) and how we act (behavior). In terms of cognition, mood has been shown to influence creativity with the typical finding that people in a positive mood exhibit higher levels of creativity than individuals in a bad mood. Scents can also produce the same effects. When people were exposed to a scent they liked creative problem solving was better than it was when they were exposed to an unpleasant odor condition.

Taking this one step further is the way in which mood influences our thinking are translated into observable behavior. A growing body of literature shows that positive mood is linked to an increase in productivity, performance and the tendency to help others, while negative mood reduces prosocial behavior. Notably, prosocial behavior and productivity are also enhanced in the presence of pleasant ambient scents. (source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-scents-affect-peoples/)

In recent years, businesses have begun to wake up to the true power of scent. Major brands are now investing in the way their properties smell due to scent’s effect on the customer experience. Hotels have begun to craft signature scents that guests enjoy as they walk through the lobby. Retailers have used scent marketing tactics to keep customers in their stores longer and therefore increasing the likelihood of those customers making purchases. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your sense of smell is affecting the way you view brands and the purchasing decisions you make. 

Some scents that are known to increase productivity and motivation are peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, ginger and tangerine. Scents that increase relaxation and reduce stress are lavender, frankincense, myrrh, vanilla, and cedar.

A wonderful way to introduce scents into your environment is with a diffuser or high quality candle. Our newest brand Lavender & Lillie offers both in the most exquisite blends of exotic fragrances that will carry you to another world, while keeping you firmly grounded in your home, office or store. 

They also make lovely soaps, creams and body washes so you may carry their wonderful scents with you wherever you go. 

Lavender & Lillie's Dover Street Collection

 


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