Strong smells can trigger a change in mood in women and even influence their behaviour, a study suggests.
Smells may trigger emotions
US psychologists at Brown University, Rhode Island, divided 63 female students into two groups.
The first group of students was asked to play a computer game that, unbeknownst to them, was impossible to win, while being exposed to an odour developed in a laboratory.
These women were then given a set of word tests in one of three rooms - one containing the same scent, one with another new scent and one with no scent.
The researchers found women who performed the tests in a room with the same scent spent significantly less time working on the problems.
"They showed an unwillingness to work on a challenging task," said Rachel Herz, assistant professor of psychology at Brown University.
Certain smells can reinforce an experience or emotion
Professor Tim Jacob, of the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University
The researchers concluded the students associated the smell with frustration and were therefore less inclined to persevere.
The second group of women, who had watched a video in a room with the scent instead of playing the computer game, performed well in the subsequent word tests.
Professor Tim Jacob, of the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University, told BBC News Online: "The smell area lies next to the memory area in the brain.
"There are strong links between how the brain associates smell with experience and emotions. Certain smells can reinforce an experience or emotion."
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Chemoreception Sciences in Florida.