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Full Access That smells blue! Differences between colour associations for odours and odour-evocative words

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That smells blue! Differences between colour associations for odours and odour-evocative words

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Strong associations exist between specific odours and colours, and these associations have been found to be both consistent within populations and over time (Gilbert et al., 1996). Experimental manipulations of these associations have shown that both taste and odour perception rely heavily upon visual cues (e.g., Blackwell, 1995; Sakai et al., 2005); participants often make errors in odour judgements when stimuli have been artificially coloured (Morrot et al., 2001), and the presence of a strongly-associated colour can greatly enhance the detection of an odour and the intensity of aromas or flavours (Zellner and Kautz, 1990; Zellner and Whitten, 1999), as well as preference and enjoyment (Herz, 2001; Herz and Beland, 2004). Such associations between colour and odour appear to be based on prior experience (Blackwell, 1995; Morrot et al., 2001; Sakai et al., 2005; Stevenson and Oaten, 2008), and odours are usually perceived alongside visual, taste and tactile sensations, as well as higher order cues such as shape, size and object labelling. As such, an odour maybe perceived quite differently depending upon its current multisensory context, and experiencing an odour without these additional cues is likely to be different from experiencing the odour in a natural multisensory environment. Here we explore if odour-evocative words, rich in semantic connotations, differ in their colour associations compared to those associated with just odour. Twenty individuals were tested in each of four geographical locations; Germany, Malaysia, The Netherlands and the United States of America. Participants chose the three colours they most closely associated with both odours and odour-words from a chart of 36, using Xperiment software (www.xperiment.mobi). Preliminary results indicate that there were differences between odour-evocative words and odour cues in terms of the associated colours, for all populations.

Affiliations: 1: 1University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, MY; 2: 2Xperiment, CH; 3: 3Wageningen University, NL; 4: 4Geothe University, DE; 5: 5Occidental College, US

Strong associations exist between specific odours and colours, and these associations have been found to be both consistent within populations and over time (Gilbert et al., 1996). Experimental manipulations of these associations have shown that both taste and odour perception rely heavily upon visual cues (e.g., Blackwell, 1995; Sakai et al., 2005); participants often make errors in odour judgements when stimuli have been artificially coloured (Morrot et al., 2001), and the presence of a strongly-associated colour can greatly enhance the detection of an odour and the intensity of aromas or flavours (Zellner and Kautz, 1990; Zellner and Whitten, 1999), as well as preference and enjoyment (Herz, 2001; Herz and Beland, 2004). Such associations between colour and odour appear to be based on prior experience (Blackwell, 1995; Morrot et al., 2001; Sakai et al., 2005; Stevenson and Oaten, 2008), and odours are usually perceived alongside visual, taste and tactile sensations, as well as higher order cues such as shape, size and object labelling. As such, an odour maybe perceived quite differently depending upon its current multisensory context, and experiencing an odour without these additional cues is likely to be different from experiencing the odour in a natural multisensory environment. Here we explore if odour-evocative words, rich in semantic connotations, differ in their colour associations compared to those associated with just odour. Twenty individuals were tested in each of four geographical locations; Germany, Malaysia, The Netherlands and the United States of America. Participants chose the three colours they most closely associated with both odours and odour-words from a chart of 36, using Xperiment software (www.xperiment.mobi). Preliminary results indicate that there were differences between odour-evocative words and odour cues in terms of the associated colours, for all populations.

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1. Blackwell L. ( 1995). "Visual cues and their effects on odour assessment", Nutrition and Food Science Vol 5, 2428. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00346659510094008
2. Gilbert A. N. , Martin R. , et al , ( 1996). "Cross-modal correspondence between vision and olfaction: The color of smells", American Journal of Psychology Vol 109( 3), 335351. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1423010
3. Herz R. S. ( 2001). "Ah, sweet skunk: Why we like or dislike what we smell", Cerebrum Vol 3, 3147.
4. Herz R. S. , Beland S. L. , et al , ( 2004). "Changing odor hedonic perception through emotional associations in humans", International Journal of Comparative Psychology Vol 17( 4).
5. Morrot G. , Brochet F. , et al , ( 2001). "The color of odors", Brain and Language Vol 79( 2), 309320. http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/brln.2001.2493
6. Sakai N. , Imada S. , et al , ( 2005). "The effect of visual images on perception of odors", Chemical Senses Vol 30(Suppl. 1), i244i245. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bjh205
7. Stevenson R. , Oaten M. ( 2008). "The effect of appropriate and inappropriate stimulus color on odor discrimination", Attention, Perception & Psychophysics Vol 70( 4), 640646. http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/PP.70.4.640
8. Zellner D. A. , Kautz M. A. ( 1990). "Color affects perceived odor intensity", Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance Vol 16( 2), 391397. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0096-1523.16.2.391
9. Zellner D. A. , Whitten L. A. ( 1999). "The effect of color intensity and appropriateness on color-induced odor enhancement", American Journal of Psychology Vol 112( 4), 585604. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1423652
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2012-01-01
2017-02-21

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