Scents and Assessments (07-15-22)

Chen and Spence investigated how smelling particular sorts of odors influenced perceptions of facial attractiveness; it seems likely that their findings can also be applied in other contexts.  The researchers report that they studied “whether the presentation of a range of pleasant fragrances, containing both floral and fruity notes, would modulate people’s judgements of the facial attractiveness . . . of a selection of typical female faces varying in age in the range 20–69 years. . . . male participants rated the female faces as less attractive when presented with an unpleasant fragrance compared to clean air. The rated attractiveness of the female faces was lower when the participants rated the unpleasant odour as having a lower attractiveness and pleasantness, and a higher intensity. . . . the effects of pleasant fragrance on judgements of a person’s age appear to be less reliable. One possible explanation for the differing effect of scent in the two cases relates to the fact that attractiveness judgements are more subjective . . . than age ratings which are more objective, cognitive-mediated, and/or analytic in nature.”

Yi-Chuan Chen and Charles Spence.  2022. “Investigating the Crossmodal Influence of Odour on the Visual Perception of Facial Attractiveness and Age.”  Multisensory Research, DOI: 10.1163/22134808-bja10076