Personality-smell and personality-taste synesthesia

Personality-smell and personality-taste (or person-smell and person-taste) are two very uncommon types of synesthesia that consist of perceiving a smell or taste respectively in response to the perception of people’s personality. They are consistent, so perceiving the same person or personality would always trigger the same smell or taste. In Sean Day's study on the prevalence of the different types of synesthesia, only 0.7% of the 1,143 synesthetes interviewed reported having experiences with personality-smell and 0.35% with personality-taste. The phenomenon can be experienced on seeing people in real life, or on-screen: some synesthetes report that when a certain actor or youtuber appears in a film or video, for example, they always perceive the same smell or taste for this person.

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


Synesthete 1: “It's not an actual physical scent, it's something that their personal energy (Aura?) throws at me. Like my best friend... To me, she's always smelling faintly of Cloves and Vanilla, and I have no reason to associate those scents with her. Or my hero in life, he's a songwriter and his music helped me through school. I've never met him, but my mind associates him with Jasmine, and one of those ocean-spray candles (the ones that never really smell like the ocean).”

Synesthete 2: “I have known people who "smell" like dishwashing liquid, socks, lotion, fish, powder, etc. Not an actual smell but something in the way I perceive them. I know exactly what you mean.”

Source: the defunct website The Experience Project, 2009.

“I breathe out when I look at a person I don’t like and quickly try to find someone I like to breathe in because my vision/personality -> smell synesthesia is so strong.”

(Source: the blog Cilla44. 2011.)


“People are different tastes in my mouth? I have this one friend who tastes pink sand. I know it sounds kind of weird, but it's sort of a crunchy (like sand) but soft and sweet. Another friend is large soap bubbles. Bleh but not that bad tasting honestly. My mom is day-old rainy mud.”

Source: this (since deleted) post on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2018.

“I meet new people in my line of work daily and get to know them, the most recent example of someone good was someone who just felt so warm and had almost a round and squishy feeling in the front part of my mouth behind my teeth, almost like a soft sphere feeling in my mouth that tasted warm? (…) As far as bad feelings, they taste almost sour, how something curdled would feel in your mouth but the taste is bland and in the back of your throat. I actually just saw an image of a person and I immediately tasted and smelled barbacoa and the green salsa from chipotle.”

(Source: This post/comment on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2021.)

Rosie Doherty is a prolific painter of her synesthetic perceptions. She has numerous types, which include tasting personality, and she has created an extensive series of oil paintings showing how she sees the tastes of the personalities of singers, actors and other public figures. With the slogan “Don’t limit your dreams", Rosie gives talks and campaigns to raise awareness of her own struggle and that of others who have autism and epilepsy.

Rosie Doherty: "How I see the personality of Ralph Fiennes: the personality that tastes like blueberries, ice and cherries.” 2019, posted in the Facebook group I'm not a freak I'm a synesthete.

This page last updated: 20 August 2021


  1. When I am swiping on matches on online dating apps, certain pictures and profiles will evoke a horrid sense of smell and I have to swipe off of them immediately. These people are not more or less good looking than others. It’s so random. Something about the vibe their picture gives me makes me smell something terrible. So weird

    1. I have been facing the same experience for a while now, I have no idea what this is called but it indeed is so weird