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You Smell. And That's A Good Thing.


Celebrated eighteenth-century man of letters Samuel Johnson was well known for his eccentric behavior and disheveled appearance. In an incident that is more likely legend than historical fact, a young woman once challenged him about his lack of hygiene.

“Dr. Johnson,” she said. “You smell.”

“No, madam,” the good doctor replied. “You smell. I stink.”


However, Italian psychologist Mariella Pazzaglia believes body odors have gotten a bad rap, both in our attitudes towards personal hygiene and in the lack of interest shown by other psychologists. In the most recent issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, Pazzaglia argues that our sense of smell, as used to detect body odors, is an important component of our social interactions and can even trump the information received from vision or hearing.


David Ludden is the author of The Psychology of Language: An Integrated Approach(link is external)

 (SAGE Publications).


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