Brown University, Providence, R.I. — Whether emotional responses to scent are a product of nature or nurture is a matter of scientific debate. But a Brown University study, published in the current issue of the International Journal of Comparative Psychology, comes down on the nurturing side.
In an experiment that involved computer games and custom-made scents, researchers found that responses to new odors depended on emotions experienced while the new odor was present. If participants had a good time playing the game, they were more likely to report liking the odor they smelled. If they had an unpleasant experience, they were more likely to dislike the scent.