An international team of scientists asked people from 10 widely different cultures to rate how pleasant they found 10 distinctive scents. The research was carried out in diverse communities across the world, including hunter-gatherer societies, agricultural societies and urban societies. The scents were presented in the form of identical odour dispensers shaped like pens, so there was no indication of where the substance in them came from. The participants were asked to arrange the pens in the order of most pleasant to least pleasant.
It has been widely assumed that perception of pleasantness is determined mostly by cultural background, but the researchers found culture only explained 6% of the variance in pleasantness rankings. Personal preference was more important, and there was strong consistency across the world as to which odours were rated as pleasant. The best predictor of pleasantness was the “physicochemical properties of the odorants themselves”, i.e. what chemical produced the smell, rather than who was smelling it.
The top three pleasant substances were vanillin, a food flavouring derived from the pods of the vanilla orchid; ethyl butyrate, which has a fruity smell; and linalool, which has a floral scent. The least pleasant smell was isovaleric acid, a strong pungent odour associated with foot sweat, soy milk and cheese.
The research team concluded “Taken together, this shows human olfactory perception is strongly constrained by universal principles.” They also suggested a possible reason why people consider some smells more pleasant than others regardless of culture is that such odours increased the chances of survival during human evolution.
Editorial Comment: We wonder what convoluted theory the evolutionists are going to come up with to explain what these fruity floral fragrances could contribute to survival in their world of struggle, survival of the fittest, and death of the unfit.
We have a much better explanation – these are the kinds of fragrances that would have pervaded the very good world God made for people to live in before sin entered the world and God cursed the ground. The trees in the Garden of Eden were described as pleasing to the eye and good for food. No doubt the garden also smelled beautiful, for the very good world would have been pleasing to all the senses. So, the actual reason these fragrances are considered pleasant across different human communities is that all people on earth are descended from the same mother and father – Adam and Eve, the original inhabitants of that very good world, so all peoples’ sense of smell is “tuned” to what God created to be pleasant.
This would also explain why floral and fruity fragrances have a calming and comforting affect, and are used a lot in potpourri and scented candles. So, do take time to stop and smell the roses, fruits and other pleasant scents in the natural environment. Pleasant smells are another reminder to give thanks to our wonderful and loving Creator, who came to earth to die in a foul-smelling environment, and who rose to bring new life to all who put their trust in him, so that we can look forward to living in a new very good world, which no doubt will be filled with beautiful fragrances.
Creation Research News 13 April 2022
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