The sweet smell...of coldness: Vanilla and the warm–cold effect
Roxane Saint-Bauzel (University of Lorraine) and Valérie Fointiat (University of Lorraine), 2013, 41(10), 1635–1640

In this study the authors extended their research into impression formation, specifically the relationship between scent and perceptions of an individual’s warmth or coldness. After reading a list of character qualities describing a target (cold vs. warm and odor vs. no odor information), participants used a 5-point Likert scale to rate four dimensions of the target’s social desirability: charming, generous, sociable, and amusing. The scent of vanilla was found to have a stronger association with and warmth than with cold, even when “cold” was used as a specific character descriptor. Warmth was also associated with more positive ratings of the social desirability traits. However, there was no significant difference between the warmth and vanilla, and warmth and no odor conditions. The authors conclude that external cues, such as odor, may have quite a strong influence on impression formation. I think ti would be interesting to see if the results can be replicated in a field study, with targets scented with vanilla or a neutral odor.

Sarah Jones | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal