Possible Reasons for Why We Differ in Our Perception of Scents

I thought this was an interesting post on another blog by scent scientist Avery Gilbert about research into why we perceive the same scent molecules differently: Is Fragrance Preference Written in Your DNA?

He begins by saying “How is it that the same odor molecule smells strong to one person and not at all to another? Or that some find an odor disagreeable while others judge it mildly pleasant? Extreme person-to-person variation is the hallmark of odor perception. It intrigues and frustrates sensory scientists—not to mention fragrance designers and chefs.”

I think about these issues when I work on new scents, so it was interesting to me to read his post on new research into differences in our olfactory receptors that can cause these differences in the way we smell things. The differences go beyond some people being anosmic to musks, and they go beyond preferences and personal experiences. As Gilbert says, people can “disagree about an odor’s basic olfactory character (e.g., is it like musk, urine, or sandalwood?).”

The person-to-person variation is fascinating and challenging all at the same time.

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