Wednesday, October 04, 2006

How bad he smelled! 

OK, so I have a question, maybe not the most polite one, but there is an interesting social psychology aspect to it – so I can ask my question. :-)

You have probably experienced something like this in your life. I sat down in a bus seat and on the seat in back of me there was a guy who smelled – I mean, not just lightly, the guy smelled so bad it was carried over several seats. Now, even though I tried not to think of it, and I tried to ignore it, after awhile I just had to get up and move away to stand at the opposite end of the bus.

Now my question revolves around how can 2 people have such different experiences relating to this same odor pheonomenon? It is obvious that there are cultures where no one ever uses a deodorant. Never. And apparently the intense body odor that results does not bother anyone at all in those cultures. In our culture however, the very same body odor is experienced by a large number of people as a horribly unpleasant one. It's the same odor, but the experience, the physical experience of smelling it is radically different.

At first thought, it just seems a little mysterious how this intense experience of unpleasantness and discomfort could result from simply verbal messages that we receive while being socialized. Then again this could be just another example of how powerful social conditioning is to the point that it can forever alter how we physically experience our world.

And it is perhaps another interesting example analogous to how social conditioning can shape myriad aspects of a person's sexuality. (One more argument against the pro-homo propaganda precept of the homo gene).

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