Affective semantic space of scents. Towards a universal scale to measure self-reported odor-related feelings



Ferdenzi C, Delplanque S, Barbosa P, Court K, Guinard J, Guo T, Roberts SC, Schirmer A, Porcherot C, Cayeux I, Sander D & Grandjean D (2013) Affective semantic space of scents. Towards a universal scale to measure self-reported odor-related feelings. Food Quality and Preference, 30 (2), pp. 128-138.

Measuring self-reported affective feelings to odors and odorous products is a recent challenge for the food and cosmetic field, requiring the development of suited instruments. This paper finalizes a line of studies aimed at developing Emotion and Odor Scales (EOSs) in several cultures. Previously available for Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Singapore, new EOSs are presented here for the United States, Brazil, and China. These scales, developed with 350-540 participants per country, have been conceived to allow the measurement of affective feelings (e.g., emotions, moods, attitudes) in response to a wide range of odors including pleasant and unpleasant, food and non-food ones. Several affective categories were recurrent in the countries examined here: Disgust/Irritation, Happiness/Well-being, Sensuality/Desire, Energy, but also Soothing/Peacefulness and Hunger/Thirst, indicating a potential link between emotion and adaptive universal functions of olfaction such as danger avoidance, ingestion and social communication. For these common categories, similarity in affective responses generally reflected geographic proximity indicating also a strong influence of cultural aspects. Exceptions to this pattern were Singapore and China, with affective responses of Singaporeans being closer to those of Europeans. This series of studies allows us to propose a universal scale (UniGEOS) that might be used in the future for examination of other cultures. This scale comprises affective categories that we found to be culturally shared, enclosing the most frequently shared affective terms, and several culture-specific aspects that may be relevant in other cultures. This tool can be used in its complete form (25 affective terms) or as a short version with nine categories entitled Unpleasant feelings, Happiness/Delight, Sensuality/Desire, Energy, Soothing/ Peacefulness, Hunger/Thirst, Interest, Nostalgia and Spirituality.

olfaction; evolutionary psychology; psychology; smell; fragrance

Food Quality and Preference: Volume 30, Issue 2

Publication date31/12/2013
Date accepted by journal16/04/2013

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Professor Craig Roberts

Professor Craig Roberts

Professor of Social Psychology, Psychology