I don’t stick to one. I like novelty and being with just “the one” for a long time would tire and get me uninterested. On the average, it takes me just a month or two to go looking for a new one that would be enough stimulate my senses. Loyalty? Not my thing.
Before you think negatively of me and the quality of relationships I have, I want to make it clear that I was just talking about my preferences for shower gels. (Last time I’ve checked, there’s no psychological study relating shower gels and interpersonal relationships!) Yes, I don’t always use the same brand of shower gels. Usually, after consuming one bottle of a specific brand, I would go sniff bottles in the grocery with scents different from the previous one I had. The fragrance would be the first thing I check and the deciding factor in purchasing that specific brand. My current bottle has a coconut aroma to it. I also had brief but blissful experiences with aloe, vanilla, milk and oatmeal. I prefer these fragrances because they keep me feeling fresh all day, as if I just came out of the shower. For me, these shower gels are more than just cleansing agents but they can also effectively set and enhance my mood for the day.
This type of reasoning for my vanity, in that a specific fragrance has mood altering effects, is congruent to the findings of a study done by Field and colleagues(2005). In their study, they have showed that a specific cosmetic scent, lavender, enhances relaxation. Through the use of both physiological and self-report measures, they have assessed the scent’s apparent effects.
The self-report measures administered involved scales that measure temporary anxiety levels (STAI), depressed mood states (POMS), and feelings of tension and alertness (visual analogue scale). Aside from these, the participants also performed math computations that test their speed and accuracy. The participants’ responses and scores before and after fragrance presentation were then compared. Physiological measures employed were EEG and EKG. Through these two, physiological responses were recorded before, during and after being presented with the shower gel.
The results of the tests supported the hypothesis that the scent does affect transient mood. The participants reported increased relaxation and decreased anxiety and depressed mood. The same results were also observed for the physiological measures. Decreased heart rate and activation of left frontal area associated with less depressed affect and greater approach behavior were determined through the EEG and EKG respectively. The performance on the math computation (i.e. improved time record) were also correlated with the experience of enhanced relaxation. Together, these results suggest that the lavender scent can induce relaxation and improve the mood of a perceiver.
It is interesting how we can have such great control over our mood experiences and yet there are times that we can’t help but lose our temper. Knowing these findings can make us better equipped for the next fit that we’ll have when things won’t go our way.
Also, this study got me interested to the other scents that may affect one’s mood. We might be encountering cinnamon and peppermint perfumes and body sprays in our local grocery stores soon as these scents were found to increase perceived alertness, decreased temporal demand and decreased frustration in driving scenarios( Raudenbush et al, 2009). Chemists and perfumer may also explore and breakdown the chemical components of sweat for this particular scent from male perspiration was actually found to affect the mood, brain activity and levels of sexual arousal of women (“The joys”, 2007). Another study, which I find very timely, found that certain fragrances increases the dancing activity and enjoyment in nightclubs. I wonder what scents I would be smelling tonight in Ignite: UP PUGAD Sayk’s Adhoc event at Fiamma.
These are just some of the documented scents that have mood altering effects. With the variety of odorants that we can perceive, there may still be other scents out there that induce the same effects. And for this, scents and their effects are definitely scent-sational!
Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Cisneros, W., Feijo, L., Vera, Y., & … Claire He, Q. (2005). Lavender Fragrance Cleansing Gel Effects on Relaxation. International Journal of Neuroscience, 115(2), 207-222. doi:10.1080/00207450590519175
Raudenbush, B., Grayhem, R., Sears, T., & Wilson, I. (2009). Effects of Peppermint and Cinnamon Odor Administration on Simulated Driving Alertness, Mood and Workload. North American Journal of Psychology, 11(2), 245-256.
The joys of sweating. (2007). Journal of Assisted Reproduction & Genetics, 24(5), 151. doi:10.1007/s10815-007-9117-x