Every nation on our planet has its owntraditions, signs, standards of beauty and other cultural features. What is considered the norm in one part of the world may be perceived as savagery in another. For example, among the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, the Maori, women with tattoos covering their chin are considered beautiful. And among the Asian people Padaung, a long neck is considered beautiful, which is why women wear special metal hoops around their necks. We are all different, but almost all nations have one thing in common - we love some smells and hate others. This became known during the experiment, which involved 280 people who are indigenous peoples of different continents, farmers and urban residents. They were asked to sniff a dozen scented sticks with different scents and arrange them in order of pleasantness. It turned out that people tend to consider the same smells pleasant and unpleasant, regardless of cultural characteristics.
Does culture influence the perception of smells?
About the experiment and its resultstold the scientific publication Science Alert. It was attended by representatives of 10 different cultural groups, including a number of indigenous hunter-gatherer and traditional farming communities, as well as modern city dwellers. To conduct the experiment, the authors of the scientific work had to independently visit Thailand, Mexico, Ecuador and the United States, including deserts, rainforests, highlands and coastal regions, and so on. New Yorkers were chosen as modern city dwellers because this city represents the greatest ethnic diversity.
We wanted to find out if people all over the world havethe same attitude to different smells, or their preferences differ due to cultural characteristics,” said neuroscientist Artin Arshamian.
In total, 280 people took part in the experiment.human. The researchers gave them 10 devices to spray different odors. People were asked to smell smells and rank them in terms of pleasantness, with the most pleasant ones first and the most disgusting ones last.
The most pleasant and unpleasant odors
In almost all cases Vanilla was considered the most pleasant smell.. Also, many participants in the experiment found the smell pleasant. ethyl butyrate - a substance that has a fruity odor and is often used as a flavor enhancer. The third most pleasant was linaloolwhich has a floral scent.
The most unpleasant smell emitted isovaleric acid. It has a strong, unpleasant odor that can sometimes be found in cheese, soy milk, and human sweat.
The researchers got almost the sameThe results therefore concluded that cultural differences in no way affect how people perceive different odors. It turns out that it cannot be such that for the townspeople the smell of flowers and fruits seemed pleasant, and for the peoples of Africa they were disgusted. No - these odors are considered pleasant in both cases, but the smell of sweat always causes a nauseating effect. Of course, there are people who like some unpleasant smells for many, but this is individual preference.
See also: Why do feet smell like cheese? Bacteria gives your shoes 4 different smells
The role of smells in people's lives
Scientists are not going to stop atachieved and will continue their research, because the results have raised additional questions for them. If all people in the world like some smells and repel others, this may mean that we inherited the same preferences from common ancestors. Perhaps, once upon a time, the perception of smells allowed our ancestors to survive in the wild. For example, different smells could help them separate dangerous foods from nutritious ones. It sounds quite logical, but there is no scientific evidence for this at the moment.
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Smells play a very important role in our lives.Unfortunately, today we have lost some smells - we do not know how it smelled in medieval forges, what perfumes were created by ancient perfumers, and so on. But a couple of years ago, the Odeuropa project appeared, in which scientists intend to restore the smells of ancient times using information from books and artificial intelligence. It was planned to allocate up to 2.8 million euros to support the project, that is, the intentions of the scientists were very serious. If you are interested, you can find out the details at this link.