the meaning and power of smell reading answers

The meaning and Power of Smell Reading Answers: IELTS Samples

Updated on 13 September, 2022
Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

What is the meaning and power of smell? Here are the reading answers for the topic that you can check out along with the passage in question. This will help you prepare better for the IELTS examination.

The Meaning and Power of Smell Reading Passage

      Olfaction, or the sense of smell as we call it, is powerful. Odors are what impact us at psychological, social, and even physical levels. Most of the time, however, we usually breathe in surrounding fragrances/aromas without being conscious of their importance. When our sense of smell is hindered or impaired for any reason, we start understanding the vital role played by the same in ensuring our well-being or at least the sense of it. 

  1. A survey executed at Concordia University in Montreal by Anthony Synott had participants being directed to comment on the importance of smell in their lives. It became visible that smell can lead to the evocation of powerful responses emotionally. Any odor or scent linked with a good or positive experience may usher in joy, while any foul or bad odor or even one linked to a bad experience or memory may lead to feelings of disgust. Survey respondents also noted that emotional linkages governed many of their olfactory preferences, i.e., what they liked or disliked. These linkages can sometimes have the power to make us label fragrances that are otherwise unpleasant as more agreeable and those which are otherwise pleasing or fragrant as completely disagreeable for specific people. Hence, how we perceive smell or our perception comprises the odors and their sensations and the emotions, experiences, and memories linked to them. 
  2. Odors are also crucial cues in terms of ensuring proper social bonds. A survey respondent felt that there is never any true or complete bonding at an emotional level without the power of touch and smell as far as a loved one is concerned. Infants also identify their mothers after birth via smell, while adults can also identify their spouses/children through their scents. In one common such test, men and women could readily differentiate between clothing worn by their spouses from similar options worn by others. Most respondents would have otherwise never thought deeply about odor being a cue for the recognition/identification of family members before this test. However, this experiment indicated that smells do have the power to register in our brains, even when we are not conscious of them. 
  3. Despite being highly important for sensory and emotional associations, the smell is possibly the most underrated sense across several regions and cultures. This is because the smell is often given a lowly position amongst the senses. Compared to its necessity for animals, the human sense is not as powerful and is still not as developed. Our olfactory abilities are nothing compared to specific animals, although they still have reasonable powers. Our noses can readily identify smells by thousands and also perceive various odors, even when they are in smaller quantities. 
  4. The smell continues to be an elusive phenomenon. Odors cannot have names in several languages and cultures as opposed to colors. This is because of the absence of specific words. Whenever we talk about any odor, we have to use the generic- 'It smells like..' and cannot fully state the experience from an olfactory perspective. It is also impossible to record odors, meaning that we cannot effectively store or capture them over time. We can only go by reminiscences and engaging descriptions, which naturally impact the domain of olfactory research. 
  5. Most research on smell has been done, considering its scientific and physical aspects. Progress has been made in understanding more about olfaction's chemical and biological aspects, although several core queries remain unanswered. Researchers cannot yet affirm whether the smell is a single sense or a couple of senses, i.e., one involves responses to odors, and the other involves being able to register all the odorless chemicals contained in the air. Is the nose the only body part that is impacted by odors? How can objective measurement of smells be possible while accounting for non-physical aspects? These questions indicate how the examination of smell and its psychology will increasingly influence researchers in the field. 

6: Yet, the smell is not just any psychological or biological aspect or phenomenon, as it were. It also has social, historical, and cultural overtones. Many smells are considered disgusting/insulting in several communities while being acceptable to many others, for instance. Cultural values are often inseparable from odors. Our smell is what is means and model for our engagement or interaction with the world outside. Varied smells may help us associate with emotionally impactful and intimate thoughts and experiences. The value we give to the same will be internalized in a personalized manner by societal members. Most vitally, our common perceptions or thoughts about smells may also help differentiate us from several other types of cultures. Studying cultural histories of smells is an examination of human cultures and their very essence.

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The Meaning and Power of Smell Reading Questions & Answers

Questions: From 1-6

The above reading passage has six paragraphs (A-F) - Choose the correct heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below.

List of Headings

(i) The difficulties of talking about smells

(ii) The role of smell in personal relationships

(iii) Future studies into the smell

(iv) The relationship between the brain and the nose

(v) The interpretation of smells as a factor in defining groups

(vi) Why our sense of smell is not appreciated

(vii) Smell is our superior sense

(viii) The relationship between smell and feelings

  1. Paragraph A
  2. Paragraph B
  3. Paragraph C
  4. Paragraph D
  5. Paragraph E
  6. Paragraph F

Questions 7-10 - Choose the correct letter, A, B, C, or D.

  1. According to the introduction, we become aware of the importance of smell when

​A.We discover a new smell

B.we experience a powerful smell

C.our ability to smell is damaged

D.we are surrounded by odors.

  1. The experiment described in paragraph B

A.shows how we make use of smell without realizing it.

B.demonstrates that family members have a similar smell.

C.proves that a sense of smell is learnt.

D.compares the sense of smell in males and females.

  1. What is the writer doing in paragraph C?

A.supporting other research

B.making a proposal

C.rejecting a common belief

D.describing limitations

  1. What does the writer suggest about the study of smell in the atmosphere in paragraph E?

A.The measurement of smell is becoming more accurate.

B.Researchers believe smell is a purely physical reaction.

C.Most smells are inoffensive.

D.Smell is yet to be defined

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Questions 11-14: Complete the sentences below.

Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.

  1. Tests have shown that odors can help people recognise the _______ belonging to their husbands and wives.
  2. Certain linguistic groups may have difficulty describing smell because they lack the appropriate __________.
  3. The sense of smell may involve a response to ________ which do not smell, in addition to obvious odors.
  4. Odors regarded as unpleasant in certain ________ are not regarded as unpleasant in others.


1. viii8. A
2. ii9. C
3. vi10. D
4. i11. clothing
5. iii12. vocabulary
6. v13. chemicals
7. C14. cultures


You should rely on the above questions and answers to practice before your test. This will help you grow in confidence for the reading section.

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