Tuesday, September 27, 2022

People all over the world like the same smell

The smell we like or dislike is mainly determined by the structure of the particular odorant molecule. A collaborative study involving researchers from the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden and the University of Oxford, UK, shows that people prefer smells regardless of cultural background. The study is published in the journal current biology,

“We wanted to test whether people around the world have similar smell perceptions and like the same types of smells, or is it something that is culturally learned,” says researcher Artin Arshmian from the Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Clinical Neuroscience. Is.” “Traditionally it has been seen as cultural, but we can show that culture has little to do with it.”

The current study shows that the structure of the odorant molecule determines whether an odor is perceived as pleasant. The researchers found that some odors were preferred more than others, regardless of the participants’ cultural affiliation.

“Cultures around the world rank different odors equally, regardless of where they come from, but odor preferences do not have an individual – though cultural – component,” says Arshmian.

Indigenous population studied

The study was made possible through an international network of researchers who collaborated in a unique combination of experimental methods and field studies. The network included researchers from Karolinska Institutet, Lund University and Stockholm University (Sweden), University of Oxford and University College London (UK), Arizona State University, Monell Chemical Senses Center and University of Pennsylvania (USA), Universidad San Francisco de Quito . (Ecuador), University of Melbourne (Australia) and National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Many researchers are field workers working with indigenous populations. For this current study, the researchers selected nine communities representing different lifestyles: four hunter-gatherers and five groups with different forms of farming and fishing. Some of these groups have little contact with Western foods or household items.

odorous atmosphere

“Since these groups live in disparate odorous environments such as rainforests, coasts, mountains and cities, we capture many different types of ‘smell experience’,” says Arshmian.

A total of 235 individuals were included in the study, who were asked to rank odors on a scale from pleasant to unpleasant. The results show variation between individuals within each group, but global correspondence over which odors are pleasant and unpleasant. The researchers point out that the variation is largely explained by molecular composition (41 percent) and individual preference (54 percent).

“Personal preference can be due to learning, but can also be a result of our genetic makeup,” says Dr. Arshmian.

Vanilla was considered the most pleasant

The odors the participants were asked to rank included vanilla, which smelled best, followed by ethyl butyrate, which smelled like peach. The odor most participants rated as least pleasant was isovaleric acid, which can be found in many foods, such as cheese, soy milk and apple juice, but also in foot sweats.

According to Dr. Arshmian, one possible reason why people perceive some odors as more pleasant than others, regardless of culture, is that such odors have increased their chances of survival during human evolution.

“We now know that there is universal odor perception that is driven by molecular structure and explains why we like or dislike a certain odor,” continues Dr. Arshmian. “The next step is to study why this knowledge is what happens in the brain when we smell a particular odor.”

The field work behind the study was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), the Swedish Research Council, and general studies by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the USA. Researchers have reported that there is no conflict of interest.

Nation World News Desk
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