It is in our human nature to contemplate death, and how we depict death often includes dead animals, humans, birds, and flies. So what’s the connection between all of this that we haven’t considered before? Smell.

Current research shows that the human nose cannot differentiate between different odors, but it is capable of responding to them. For example, an odor caused by a chemical called putrescine. It’s a chemical released when the body begins to decompose, and there’s one small problem to note: the smell is the result of the necrotic behavior of animals over the course of evolution, and these reactions are thought to have originated at least 420 million years ago. . before.

It is believed that animals react to the smell of patrescine as a sense of danger in two ways: the presence of a predator, and secondly – a reaction to the threat to their lives according to their instincts. they. Run away.

Scientists conducted 4 different experiments on humans with a mixture of putrescine, water and ammonia and confirmed that human reactions and behavior are no different from animal behavior.


In the first experiment, vigilance was tested by exposing participants to the odor of putrescine. The results showed that participants exposed to the smell of decay were significantly more alert than those exposed to ammonia or water.

Escape behavior

In the second experiment, the scientists tested a group of unsuspecting people and asked them to rate the intensity, repulsiveness and familiarity of the smell. The researchers wanted to see how the group responded to the smell and how fast the participants walked 80 meters. People who smelled putrescine tended to move away from the area more quickly, suggesting that the smell evokes a strong desire to escape.

In another experiment, after smelling a group of patrescines, the researchers instructed participants to fill in word stems.

The results showed that the smell of putrescine led the group to generate word stems, all of which were associated with escape and other escape-related words. The use of string words adds to the scent.

Defense and hostility

In the final experiment, participants were exposed to a pleasant odor that they did not notice. In this experiment, they were given a text to study and tasked with evaluating its author.

They failed to detect the subtle smell of putrescine, and participants showed defensiveness and hostility toward the author. In addition, unconscious exposure to odors elicits protective behaviors in participants.

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