People go to great lengths to conceal bad odors or enhance pleasant ones. For example, a store shelf will reveal a myriad of deodorants while upscale name brand perfumes may be “designed to capture the essence of a garden on the Nile”. In fact, celebrities are capitalizing by adding their names to the bottle of perfume. An NPR news report cites rapper 50 Cent, as selling the “smell of success” in a bottle. Even more, markets not normally associated with perfume are beginning to introduce their own products. The implication of these developments is the importance of others noticing the “smell of success” or the scent of “a garden on the Nile” when near you.
However, if the purpose of wearing perfume is to look favorably in other people’s eyes then according to research by Li, Moallem, Paller, and Gottfried (2007) people are taking the wrong approach. It appears that the best way to influence someone’s social preference is to wear perfume that is perceived outside of consciousness. The researchers found that pleasant odors presented unconsciously produced more favorable ratings of faces. Contrary to general perception, favorable ratings were not found when presenting pleasant scents consciously. It remains unclear, however, if the findings will hold in social interactions. If so, how close would people have to stand next to each other for the effect to occur?