Mia M. Wilson

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Family and Consumer Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Marlene Breu

Second Advisor

Dr. Karen Blaisure

Third Advisor

Dr. Angela Moe

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Body scent plays a major factor in how individuals interact with one another. While Americans have their own perception of what is "proper" body scent, they still remain uninformed about the various ways body scent is used to deliver social messages and form interpersonal relationships within other cultures. With many immigrants continuing to move to the United States (Frey, 2004), American societies need to become educated on other cultures' social aspects of body scent to avoid alienation of foreign communities. This qualitative research study explores how individuals of the Saudi Arabian culture use body scent as a social identifier to create relationships, identify groups, and accept or reject individuals. A convenience sample of 20 Saudi Arabian students from Western Michigan University was used to conduct in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Thirteen Saudi males and seven Saudi females were asked questions relating to their "lived experiences" with the use of body scent. Eleven categories (central themes) emerged during data analysis. The study's findings suggest a significant need for Americans to become aware of cultural differences involving the use of body scent to eliminate segregation and develop an appreciation of the differences.