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The World's Favourite Smell

Scientists asked an eclectic and diverse range of people from around the world to select their favourite scents. And, much to OGN's surprise, their top 10 doesn't include the smell of bacon being fried.

Scientists from the University of Oxford and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm presented 10 scents to hundreds of people from nine different cultures around the globe. The cultures included people from urban areas in America, Mexico and Thailand, as well as secluded farmers living in the South American mountains, hunter-gatherers in the south-east Asian rainforest and fishing communities on Central America’s Pacific coast.

Field scientists working in remote areas were recruited for the project to get scented vials to isolated individuals with little or no prior exposure to Western odours.

“Since these groups live in such disparate odiferous environments, like rainforest, coast, mountain and city, we capture many different types of ‘odour experiences’,” says Dr Artin Arshamian from the Karolinska Institute, the study author.

“We wanted to examine if people around the world have the same smell perception and like the same types of odour, or whether this is something that is culturally learned. Traditionally it has been seen as cultural, but we can show that culture has very little to do with it.”

Remarkably, the preferences were consistent for all 10 compounds in all nine locations. So, what came out on top? Here's the top 10 ranked smells:

1 - Vanilla

2 - Peaches

3 - Lavender

4 - Cloves

5 - Rose

6 - Mushrooms

7 - Sweaty goats

8 - Green peppers

9 - Pungent garlic/decaying fish

10 - Sweaty feet

Maybe you're as astonished as we are that 7, 9 and 10 were so universally admired!?


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