Q: I was thinking about asking a girl out and I was wondering how I can improve my chances?
A: There’s scientific evidence that pleasant fragrances have a positive effect on dating requests. No really! A study on that very subject was published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology in 2012.
- Previous research has shown that pleasant scents have a positive effect on social relationships.
- Possibly, this works because pleasant scents improve people’s mood. People in a good mood are more likely to help, trust each other, volunteer, and maybe… say yes to a request for a phone number?
- That question was asked by a French researcher at the University of South Brittany (Bretagne-Sud) and published in 2012.
- Before the study, a group of undergraduates walked around in a mall and identified which areas smelled the best.
- There were shops that smelled particularly good: bakeries, pastry shops, coffee shops, etc.
- There were shops that had no particular smell: clothing stores, music stores, a bank, etc.
- The researcher got 18 male volunteers and had them rated on attractiveness by a group of 31 women.
- The young men were rated on a scale from 1 to 10 (with 10 being highly attractive).
- The 5 most attractive men were recruited for the study.
- The reason the researcher needed attractive men was that it’s not too likely for a woman to just accept a date with someone they just met in the first place.
- Having the men be attractive to start out with increased the likelihood that a woman would consider it.
- The men were simply asked to ask to approach young women for their phone numbers in different areas of the mall.
- The young men did NOT know the purpose of the study. All they knew is that they were supposed to go to several areas of the mall and ask young women (approximately aged 18-25) for their phone numbers!
This was the script they had to follow:
“Hello, my name is Antoine. I just want to say that I think you’re really pretty. I have to go to work this afternoon, and I was wondering if you would give me your phone number. I’ll phone you later and we can have a drink together someplace.”
As soon as the young woman accepted (or refused), the young man was instructed to immediately inform the young woman that this is all part of an experiment, and asked the young woman to fill out a survey that explained the reasons the young woman accepted (or refused) the request.
Aside: Hey, maybe if a girl refuses to give you her number, you should just hand her a clipboard and tell her it was all part of an experiment! Or not…
Altogether, 400 young women were approached over the course of this study (200 in a pleasant-smelling location, and 200 in a neutral-smelling location).
The location’s odor did matter!
When the phone number request was done in a pleasant-smelling area of the mall, 23% of the women gave their phone number to the young men (46 out of 200).
- In the no-odor location, only 13.5% of women gave their phone number to the young man (27 out of 200).
- That difference might not seem incredible, but it was statistically significant. The men almost doubled their chances by simply changing the location.
- Also consider the fact that a difference was made just by changing the way the location smelled. Everything else, including the exact words that the young men said, was precisely the same.
- There was no significant difference in the success among any of the 5 men (so the difference didn’t have to do with whether one was smoother, more attractive, or more charming than the others).
This tells us that requests for dating are influenced by location and fragrance.
The fragrance wasn’t even worn by any of the men. They were simply asking for phone numbers in a good-smelling area of a mall.
The researchers suggested that women who are in a better mood are more likely to comply with a dating request.
- Pleasant odors tended to increase pleasant mood.
- What’s the take-away? Pay attention to local odors and the way you yourself smell when making requests of women!
- PRO TIP: If you’re going to ask a woman to marry you, maybe a fish market or pork farm isn’t the best place to do it.
Gueguen, N. (2012). The sweet smell of… courtship: Effects of pleasant ambient fragrance on women’s receptivity to a man’s courtship request. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 32, 123-125. Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494412000059