Michael Alexander Lee



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Olfaction, or the sense of smell, and emotion have long been recognized as closely related. Previous research has found that odors are not only capable of influencing our mood, but can also affect the way we evaluate different types stimuli that are associated with them. However, no study to date has examined how odors can influence the way we evaluate visual stimuli, nor considered the relationship between odor’s ability to influence mood as well as affective evaluation. This study seeks to address this gap in the literature. For this study, we have participants complete questionnaires about their demographic information, current mood, and the affective impact of odor for them. Then, we have them view a series of images and rate them for positive valence, negative valence, and intensity. Once they have viewed all the images, participants then relocate to another room that has been prepared with a pleasant odor, unpleasant odor, or no odor. The participants then complete another questionnaire regarding their mood following odor exposure, and they then view and rate another set of images, which contains both new images and the same images they viewed earlier. We hypothesize that participant’s reported mood state will change after being exposed to a pleasant or unpleasant odor, that their ratings of positive and negative valence for the images will change after being exposed to a pleasant or unpleasant odor, and that the change in image ratings is mediated by their change in mood due to the odor. Furthermore, due to there being a number of known sex differences in olfaction, we hypothesize that any odor’s effect on mood and image ratings will be more pronounced for female participants. This project is ongoing and we plan to have final results by Summer 2019.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Julie Walsh Messinger

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project

Smelling How to Feel: The Impact of Odor on Affective Evaluation and Mood