A Tomasi-lead team has added to our understanding of the role scents play in our lives; their findings are published in the Journal of Medical Research and Health Sciences. They determined via “Olfactory Virtual Reality (OVR) — a new form of VR that incorporates the sense of smell into its augmented reality . . . . that stimulating the olfactory system via scent in practitioner-administered virtual realities can trigger memory, cognition and emotion, and may improve the therapeutic benefits of augmented realities targeting chronic pain, anxiety and mood disorders. . . .
Research by Syrjanen and colleagues, linking responses to faces and odors smelled while evaluating them, can likely to applied in additional contexts. The investigators found via a literature review that “Generally, the results indicate that facial expressions are classified more rapidly in the context of odors. Apart from a few studies that show face-odor valence congruency effects, the most consistent finding is that valenced odors affect perceived face valence overall (e.g., faces are perceived as more unpleasant in an unpleasant odor condition).”
Sabiniewicz directed a research team that found that adding scents to virtual reality experiences may affect how pleasant they seem. The group determined via a project during which “participants were divided into three groups, including two experimental virtual reality (VR) environments [still scenes]: a rose garden, an orange basket, and a control condition. In each VR condition, participants were exposed to a rose odor, an orange odor, or no odor. . . Virtual scenarios tended to be remembered as more pleasant when presented with congruent odors [i.e., rose odor with the rose garden]. .
Cotneilio and colleagues studied relationships between sense of agency and scents. Sense of agency (SoA) is described as “ the feeling of ‘I did that’ as opposed to ‘the system did that’ supporting a feeling of being in control.” The team “investigated, for the first time, the effect of smell-induced emotions on the SoA. . . . participants were exposed to three scents with different valence (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral). Our results show that participants’ SoA increased with a pleasant scent compared to neutral and unpleasant scents.”
Research completed by Jiang and colleagues indicates that plant scents can augment wellbeing. The Jiang lead team describe their research: “Non-fragrant Primula malacoides Franchwas used as a control stimulus, and Primula forbesii Franch, which has a floral fragrance, was used as an experimental stimulus. . . . We found that mean blood pressure and pulse rate decreased significantly after the experiment in both conditions. . . . the vitality (V) subscale and total emotional state scores were significantly better in the experimental vs. control condition. . . .
Smells smelled and tastes tasted are powerful drivers of human wellbeing, as symptoms experienced by some during the recent pandemic indicate. For decades prior to the spread of COVID-19, however, cognitive scientists have been investigating how scents can influence achievement of design-related objectives and how design affects taste sensations.
Tools for effective sensory management
Hofer, Chen, and Schaller make it clear that humans “communicate” extensively via scents. Peoples’ need to pick up the odors of others supports subtle scentscaping. The Hofer-lead team shares that “People readily perceive and react to the body odors of other people, which creates a wide range of implications for affective, cognitive, and behavioral responses. . . .
Scents can enhance virtual experiences.