Making "Scents" Of Your Mood And Behavior

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

What we smell, aromas and odors, can have a major impact on our mood and behavior. That's what one Chicago researcher says in his new book, "Life's a Smelling Success."

The smell of baked goods is the number one thing that makes people long for their childhood. "Life's a Smelling Success" author Dr. Alan Hirsch says after that, it depends on when you were born.

Before 1930, natural smells probably take you back to the good ol' days. After 1930, it's synthetic smells like Play-Doh, Vapor Rub and Sweetarts.

Dr. Hirsch explains, "Smell is not the strongest sense. It's at least the most emotionally evocative sense. You can smell a smell and immediately change your mood or behavior."

He says southerners get nostalgic when they smell fresh air. In the midwest, farm animals. On the west coast, barbecue and in New England, flowers, scents that can also impact our ability to learn.

In one of his studies, Dr. Hirsch found that in the presence of a mixed floral smell, people were able to perform a connect the dots test 17% faster than people who couldn't smell anything. He says there are other ways smells can enhance our lives.

The scent of lavender can make us feel more relaxed. Jasmine, more awake and alert.

Dr. Hirsch tells us, "We found that the smell of green apple makes people perceive a room as larger and so for instance if you're claustrophobic that's something one can try, or the smell of barbecued roasted meat makes people perceive the room as smaller, so that might help people who are agoraphobic."

And there are flavor sprinkles that might help people who are overweight. The different smells fool their brains into thinking they've eaten more. Doctor Hirsch reports an average weight loss of 35 pounds over the course of a six-month study.

If you're interested in taking part in a six-month Sprinkle Diet study, call the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation at 1-800-664-3880 or click here. There is a $29.00 monthly charge for shipping the sprinkles to your home.