Scents and sensibility [electronic resource] : effects of aromas on emotion and decision-making
- Grace S. Tang.
- Physical description
- 1 online resource.
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- Aromas offer many advantages over traditional methods of manipulating emotion and influencing behavior, especially in the context of studying the mechanisms of decision-making. Many of the brain areas that are activated when perceiving aromas are also known to be involved in emotion, judgment, and decision-making. Pleasantness in particular has been highlighted as an important dimension of olfaction that influences affect and behavior. However, given the richness and diversity of aroma types and qualities, other qualities of aroma percepts likely influence decision processes as well. The goals of this dissertation were 1) to assess the practicality of using aromas as affective stimuli, 2) to expand work on the dimensionality and structure of olfactory space beyond pleasantness, and 3) to determine mechanisms by which aroma-induced affect can influence decisions. To this end, I first gathered ratings along two dimensions commonly used in affective science, pleasantness and intensity, and found that aromas are organized on the affective circumplex along two main axes corresponding to approach and avoidance tendencies. The reliability of the affective properties of aromas across time and between individuals was found to be high. This result confirmed that aromas are useful as affect induction tools for research, and I report affective ratings for a collection of aromas. In the second study, a dimensionality reduction approach was used to discover dimensions that contribute to perceived aroma pleasantness. Finally, using aromas identified in the first study to elicit affective responses, I tested influences of pleasantness and intensity on decision-making, focusing on decisions involving risk and ambiguity. We found that aroma-induced valence and arousal were able to influence risk-aversion, and the effect of aroma intensity was mediated by activity in the anterior insula. Overall, I demonstrate that aromas are potent affect-inducing stimuli that give rise to multi-dimensional percepts, with correspondingly diverse effects on decision-making.
- Publication date
- Submitted to the Department of Psychology.
- Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2014.
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