Book Chapter

Evolutionary psychology and perfume design



Roberts SC (2012) Evolutionary psychology and perfume design. In: Roberts S (ed.) Applied Evolutionary Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 330-348.

We argue that the process of perfume design would be enhanced if it was developed with greater understanding of the communicative value of the underlying body odour of the individual who uses it? Evolutionary psychology has, and will continue to, produce insights into the informative capacity of body odour in human perception and its role in social interactions, in five main areas: individual recognition cueing and kin-related behaviour, cues of current state, mediation of female reproductive physiology, cues of underlying good-genes, and cues of complementary genes in partner choice. Since these cues have been shaped by selection over evolutionary time, and play a role in co-ordination of key social interactions, incorporation of this knowledge into perfume design could potentially provide a springboard for transforming the success of specific perfumes. We discuss several promising possible avenues to take this process forward, as well as possible problems with the approach. On balance, we see potential to harness insights from evolutionary psychology to increase both the potency of perfume function and the strategies employed in its marketing.

body odour; olfaction; olfactory perception; cosmetics; fragrance industry; perfumery

Publication date31/12/2012
PublisherOxford University Press
Publisher URL
Place of publicationOxford

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Professor Craig Roberts

Professor Craig Roberts

Professor of Social Psychology, Psychology