Patt Morrison for October 13, 2011

Love at first smell: How much does something we are so unconscious about affect us?

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Helen Mitchell, 24, from Newcastle smells a rose in a garden in Regents Park on September 27, 2011 in London, England.

How much does smell unconsciously affect our decision making about trivial things like what food to order and more important things like a potential love interest?

Several recent studies have shown that the sense dictates more of our daily moods, decisions and behavior than previously understood. Likewise, the scent we give off can affect the emotions of those around us, making them feel anxiety or sadness without you realizing it. In fact, human sense of smell is so powerful that one study showed that a person can detect just a few drops of a strong chemical, like ethyl mercaptan, in an Olympic-sized pool.


Why is it that we are not more aware of the scents we are smelling and giving off? And, is there a way to become more in tune with our olfactory sense?


Denise Hamilton, perfume columnist, L.A. Times

Pamela Dalton, Olfaction researcher, Monell Chemical Sense Center

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