Hannah B Gahimer, Rhiannon A Gibbs, Russell J Mach, Maia A Mclin, Lauren T Olson, Lisa E Stone, Julia K Wiedemann



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Although personality has been shown to influence affective (Larsen & Kettelar, 1991) and sensory processing (Corlis, Splaver, & Wiseup, 1967; Wilson et al., 2000), very a few studies have investigated associations between olfaction and personality traits. Research findings do support a relation between neuroticism and increased odor detection sensitivity (Herbener et al, 1989; Pause et al., 1998) and more accurate odor identification (Larsson et al., 2000), although a more recent study found higher neuroticism in individuals with odor identification impairment compared to non-impaired healthy controls (Lehrner, Kirchebner, Auff, & Pusswald, 2015). To our knowledge, odor detection sensitivity, identification, and hedonic response have not been studied in relation to personality pathology. The aim of the present study was to investigate associations between select pathological personality traits and olfactory function. University students (N = 68) completed the Personality Inventory for DSM-5 (PID-5) and olfactory function was assessed using the Sniffin’ Sticks odor detection and identification tests. Hedonic response to each odor was assessed with unipolar rating scales for odor pleasantness and odor unpleasantness. Results indicated a trending, negative correlation between Depressivity and odor detection sensitivity (r= -.235, p=.052) and a positive correlation between Depressivity and total pleasantness ratings of negatively valanced odorants (rs =.303, p=.012). Anxiousness was also positively associated with pleasantness ratings of the negatively valenced odorants (rs =.264, p=.030). When Anhedonia, Depressivity, and Anxiousness were entered into a regression model, Anhedonia (Beta = -.371, t = -2.32, p = .026) and Depressivity (Beta = .414, t = 2.284, p = .026) uniquely accounted for variability in total pleasantness ratings of all odorants. Important sex differences also emerged. Anhedonia was negatively associated with unpleasantness ratings of unpleasant odorants in males (r= -.450, p=.010), but not in females (r = .271, p=.109). Gender discrepancies were also apparent for impulsivity and antagonism. The implications of these findings on personality assessment research will be discussed.

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Project Designation

Independent Research - Graduate

Primary Advisor

Julie Messinger

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project

Personality and Smell: Investigating Associations between Personality Pathology and Odor Detection, Identification and Hedonic Response