In a very small study funded by Unilever and carried out by neuroscientists and psychologists in the US and Sweden, women’s faces were rated as more attractive in the presence of a pleasant odor, suggesting that the use of perfumes and scented products may alter how we perceive others.
Published in the journal PLoS One, the study asked participants, most of whom were women, to rate the attractiveness and age of eight female faces, presented as photos.
While evaluating the images, scientists diffused five different concentrations and combinations of fish oil and rose oil.
Participants were asked to rate the age of the face, the attractiveness of the face, and the pleasantness of the odor.
Results showed that ‘odor pleasantness’ directly influenced the ratings of facial attractiveness but did little to influence the determination of age, authors noted.
"Odor pleasantness and facial attractiveness integrate into one joint emotional evaluation," explained lead author Janina Seubert, who carried out the research while at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Pennsylvania.
"This may indicate a common site of neural processing in the brain."
According to scientists, another way to make yourself more attractive is to surround yourself with friends.
In a separate study, psychologists from the University of California decided to put Barney Stinson's "cheerleader effect" theory to the test. Stinson was a popular womanizing character on the US TV series "How I Met Your Mother."
True to his theory, the psychological scientists found that participants rated both male and female subjects as more attractive when shown in group shots compared to photos pictured alone.
Their working theory? That people tend to “average out” the features of faces in a group, canceling out unattractive or distinctive facial features.