How do I smell good

Odor research: Why everyone smells different - and why we have to practice smelling

Every second, fragrances flow through our nose through our breath. Often unconsciously, they provide us with a lot of information about our surroundings and our fellow human beings, reveals Hanns Hatt. He is Germany's most famous odor researcher

GEOlino: Mr. Hatt, do you have a particularly good nose?

Hans Hatt: Not at all! My nose is not that good. People always tell me: man, what you can smell! In doing so, I'm just paying a lot of attention to it. When I enter a room, the first thing I notice is what it smells like there. It's the same when I meet someone on the train: I not only look at their clothes, but also pay attention to their smell.

Why is it important how someone smells?

The smell says a lot about us. Whether or not I can smell someone is not just a saying. Our genes determine what scent we have, and because everyone has different genes, everyone has their own smell. When choosing a partner, we are influenced by the body odor of the other. Nature has arranged it in such a way that we prefer someone who is genetically as different as possible from us.

The nose also plays a role in making friends. Whether I like someone or not also depends on how they smell. Of course, this is also influenced by what someone eats, what perfume or deodorant they use, whether they wash or not.

And if I don't have a fine nose, can I practice smelling?

You even have to practice smelling! It's such a shame that we only have singing and drawing lessons at school. It didn't do any good for me - I would have preferred to have had a smell lesson. Because basically we all have the same biological prerequisites. A perfumer practices smelling two to three hours a day, and the better he can do it.

Does the sense of smell change in the course of life?

Smelling decreases with age, as does sight and hearing. Nobody is surprised that they need glasses or a hearing aid, but very few get the idea that a olfactory aid would also be good for them. Children, on the other hand, smell amazingly good. But you have to practice assigning different smells. Because there is a difference whether I smell fragrances or whether I recognize them.

Why is it important to be able to smell good in everyday life?

Smells surround us everywhere. There is no odor-free room, not a moment in life without odor molecules floating around in the air and informing us about all kinds of things. And we have a decisive advantage when we

Which would be?

We humans are manipulated in a tour with scents. If the fruit stand smells like heavenly orange, I like to grab it. Supermarkets, for example, use this and spray artificial fragrances.

And how does my brain decide whether something smells good or stinks?

Every scent molecule that gets into the nose when inhaled is stored in the brain together with the mood in which I am at the moment. So every fragrance gets a stamp: If I was in a good mood, a good one, if I experienced something bad at that moment, I save it as negative. That is why one perceives a Christmas scent as heavenly, because it is always wonderfully cozy at home at Christmas time. And the other person is always disappointed and frustrated at Christmas because he is just fighting with his parents and getting nothing for free.

Accordingly, he cannot smell cinnamon and cloves well. Then training comes back into play: If I'm untrained and don't actively pay attention to what I smell and when, I have no idea why the Christmas scent is making me in a bad mood.

But most people find the smell of sweat, for example, rather disgusting. So do we all associate it with a negative experience?

No, not necessarily. Because what stinks to us or not depends on our upbringing. When the mother says: "Ugh, you smell of sweat, now wash yourself, that's disgusting!", Then that leads to the fact that we find sweat uncomfortable - because that's how we learned it. If the mother had said: “You smell wonderfully of sweat! Heavenly! “, We would perceive the smell completely differently.

But there are also a few scents that you can use Pheromones(Chemical messenger substances that humans and animals emit mainly via the sweat glands. The attractants are perceived unconsciously and trigger a reaction that is firmly anchored in the brain within a species) names to which all people, regardless of experience and upbringing, react in the same way.

For example, sweat exudes an odor that triggers a reaction that is firmly anchored in the brain. We all react to this with a bit of fear, but above all with empathy and attention.

Can you give us another example?

Another fragrance that we discovered in research is the hedion. When I smell that, I trust my counterpart more. However, there are only fewer than ten of these pheromones in humans. It's different in the animal kingdom. For a mouse, for example, there are hundreds.

Pretty nifty. Do you actually have a favorite fragrance?

To be honest: anything to do with food! Especially spices like rosemary or basil, which I love very much. That's why my balcony is full of it.

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