Lenochova P, Vohnoutova P, Roberts SC, Overzaucher E, Grammer K & Havlicek J (2012) Psychology of Fragrance Use: Perception of Individual Odor and Perfume Blends Reveals a Mechanism for Idiosyncratic Effects on Fragrance Choice. PLoS ONE, 7 (3), p. e33810. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0033810
Cross-culturally, fragrances are used to modulate body odor, but the psychology of fragrance choice has been largely overlooked. The prevalent view is that fragrances mask an individual's body odor and improve its pleasantness. In two experiments, we found positive effects of perfume on body odor perception. Importantly, however, this was modulated by significant interactions with individual odor donors. Fragrances thus appear to interact with body odor, creating an individually-specific odor mixture. In a third experiment, the odor mixture of an individual's body odor and their preferred perfume was perceived as more pleasant than a blend of the same body odor with a randomly-allocated perfume, even when there was no difference in pleasantness between the perfumes. This indicates that fragrance use extends beyond simple masking effects and that people choose perfumes that interact well with their own odor. Our results provide an explanation for the highly individual nature of perfume choice.
PLoS ONE: Volume 7, Issue 3