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Background odors affect behavior in a dot-probe task with emotionally expressive faces
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0856-0569
Number of Authors: 32019 (English)In: Physiology and Behavior, ISSN 0031-9384, E-ISSN 1873-507X, Vol. 210, article id 112540Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Odors affect perception of social cues in visual environments. Although often underestimated, people use their sense of smell to guide approach or avoidance behavior in social contexts. However, underlying psychological mechanisms are not well known. Prior work suggested olfactory effects are due to increased attention or arousal, or depend on the congruency between olfactory and visual cues. Our aim was to assess how odors influence attentional processes using a dot-probe task with odor-congruent and odor-incongruent facial expressions (happy, disgusted and neutral expressions paired with pleasant odor, unpleasant odor and no-odor). In a pre-registered analysis plan, we hypothesized either faster reaction times attributed to arousal from odors in general, or to faces that were emotionally congruent with the odors. We also hypothesized time-on-task effects specific to the odor compared to the control condition. Using Bayesian linear models, we found strong evidence that the faces were rated as more arousing and emotional in odor contexts. However, the dot-probe task did in fact not provide an effective cue to selective visual attention, and odors did not modulate overall attention to the faces. However, we found a time-on-task effect such that in the unpleasant odor condition, response times decreased over time, whereas in the no-odor and pleasant condition there was a slight increase in response times. We conclude that time-on-task effects is an interesting venue for odor-visual interaction research, and such effects might explain inconsistent findings in the prior research literature.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 210, article id 112540
Keywords [en]
Affective odors, Facial expression, Emotion, Reaction time
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-175739DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2019.05.001ISI: 000488654900026PubMedID: 31104855OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-175739DiVA, id: diva2:1369232
Available from: 2019-11-11 Created: 2019-11-11 Last updated: 2019-12-04Bibliographically approved

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