The sweet smell...of coldness: Vanilla and the warm–cold effect

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Roxane Saint-Bauzel
Valérie Fointiat
Cite this article:  Saint-Bauzel, R., & Fointiat, V. (2013). The sweet smell...of coldness: Vanilla and the warm–cold effect. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 41(10), 1635-1640.


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We revisited the well-known warm–cold paradigm in a 2 (cold vs. warm) × 2 (odor vs. no odor information) between-subjects experiment. The participants were read a list of character qualities describing a target (cold vs. warm and odor vs. no odor information) before judging the target on 4 dimensions related to social desirability. The results reinforce the warm–cold dimensions as central traits. However, they also go one step further. They show that describing the target as smelling like vanilla undermined the classical cold effect. When forming impressions about the target, the individual can also take external cues (such as the odor evoked) into account.

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