Emotion-smell synesthesia

An alternative name could be emotional-olfactory synesthesia

Emotions triggering a synesthetic smell concurrent can be of two types: either other people’s emotions, or the synesthete’s own emotions. In any case, it appears to be a very uncommon type of synesthesia. The few examples I have been able to find are of the first type, i.e. experiencing a smell concurrent on intuitively sensing an emotion in someone else. In his study of 1,143 synesthetes, Sean Day indicates that two of them reported having this type of experience (0.2%). Its characteristics would be that the aromas perceived would be consistent (same emotion = same smell), and probably – as seems to be the norm in synesthesias with an olfactory concurrent – the smells would probably not be perceived every single time the trigger was present but only under certain circumstances (on feeling or receiving the impression of a strong or important emotion; at a particular time when the synesthete is feeling more sensitive and receptive, etc.).

Here are some descriptions written by people with this type of synesthesia:

“Emotions have weird smells to me. Not my own emotions, but the emotions of others. A content and generally happy person smells like chicken. Live chickens that have been rained on.

Anger smells like a fresh set of new shoes.”

(Source: This post on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2020.)

My dad [has] smells for emotions, so he can tell when I’m sad as he smells the sea and when I´m happy he smells wood.”

(Source: a comment on this website. 2018.)


Related types of synesthesia:



Perceived emotion-to-colour and other concurrents (with other people’s emotions)


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