Taylor Swift. Justin Bieber. Katy Perry. They’re only a few of the many celebrities who market their own unique, distinct odor to the public via perfumes and colognes. There are people who can write quite eloquently on this subject so I won’t uh, nose around there, but there may be some proof behind why the fragrance industry makes so much money and smelling good isn’t just a marketing ruse (I’m looking at you, Axe).
A recent study out of Helsinki found that if people were exposed to bad odors (specifically civette, which smells like feces), a light stroke on their arm felt less pleasant than if they were exposed to the scents of rose, coconut, vanilla, or no scent at all.
Prior to the actual sniffing and stroking, study participants took two tests – one on tactile feelings (presumably to see how they would respond to the strokes) and one on disgust. You can take this disgust-o-meter test for yourself here (requires a bit of registration, including asking you to rank yourself on something that looks like the magic ladder of economic prosperity).
The best part of this study is the fact that the gentle arm stroking was completed at two speeds, fast and slow, by:
… a custom-built robotic device (rotary tactile stimulator, RTS; Dancer Design, UK, stroking 7.5 cm with a 50 mm wide flat, soft watercolor brush made of fine, smooth, goat’s hair)…
Unfortunately, Dancer Design’s website does not yet have a photo of the robot in question.
So the next time you’re trying to offer a nice shoulder rub, try not smelling gross. For science.