Whether emotional responses to scent are a product of nature or nurture is a matter of scientific debate. But a Brown University study, published in the current issue of the International Journal of Comparative Psychology, comes down on the nurturing side.
In an experiment that involved computer games and custom-made scents, researchers found that responses to new odors depended on emotions experienced while the new odor was present. If participants had a good time playing the game, they were more likely to report liking the odor they smelled. If they had an unpleasant experience, they were more likely to dislike the scent.
“As humans, we’re not immediately predisposed to respond to a scent and believe that it is good or bad,” said Rachel Herz, a visiting assistant professor of psychology at Brown and the lead scientist of the study. “When we like or don’t like a smell, that is learned.”
Wendy Lawton | EurekAlert!
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