Common and Ambiguous Scents of the Outdoors

According to Jan Holden (2006), “smell influences the brain functions that link memory, behavior, and emotion”. When people smell particular objects from the outdoors, ideas and existing memories flow into their heads. For instance, when people smell flowers, there is a general consensus that it has a pleasant floral smell. We give flowers on Valentine’s day or place them on the graves of our loved ones due to their lovely sight and aroma. Therefore, it isn’t uncommon for everyone to agree that flowers are just floral, blissful plants. However, not all scents conjure the same image for everyone.

Growing up, no one has identical experiences and lifestyles. One person will always have a different journey than another. The variety of experiences allows individuals to associate a specific outdoor smell with other memories or ideas. So unlike the scent of the flower, which creates a typical image for people, the smell of cut grass is open to many interpretations.

An informal survey of University of Illinois student about outdoor smells shows the variety of associations people can have!


Holden, J. (2006). Just follow your nose. Nursing Standard20(41), 30–31.

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