Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Consumer Congruence

Hikaru Cho
Here's a random olfactory fact for you:

Consumer satisfaction increased when the store had (low-arousal) lavender and relaxing music or (high-arousal) grapefruit and energizing music; by contrast, no effect was registered when there was a mismatch between music and smell.

Mattila, A. S., and Wirtz, J. 2001. Congruency of scent and music as a driver of in-store evaluations and behavior. Journal of Retailing 77(2):273–289.

Pleasant ambient stimuli are perceived more positively when their arousing qualities match rather than mismatch

We manipulated scent and music in a 3 (no music, pleasant low arousal and high arousal music) by 3 (no scent, pleasant low and high arousal scents) factorial design in a field setting. Our findings show that when ambient scent and music are congruent with each other in terms of their arousing qualities, consumers rate the environment significantly more positive, exhibit higher levels of approach and impulse buying behaviors, and experience enhanced satisfaction than when these environmental cues were at odds with each other.

Image source: Hikaru Cho

Friday, December 15, 2017

Olfactive Entaglement

This is a kidney glomerulus, but the brain has them too, they’re a cluster of nerve endings. source

Here we have a beautiful example of “quantum hedonics,” which is what I call the ability for odors to be considered both good and bad in a population, and even within the same individuals. (Hedonics means whether a thing is considered good or bad.)

At the end of Hidden Scents, there is an essay detailing this paradoxical nature of the smell of isovaleric acid, which is the smell of both vomit and Parmesan cheese. How can a thing be both good and bad at the same time? One cannot categorize a system where some of its components are, simultaneously, opposites of eachother. In this case, as suspected at the end of the article clipped below, the subjective status of the molecules may depend on the other molecules present. The identity or the status of one thing is dependent on the identity or status or presence of all the others. Therefore, in this type of situation, things do not exist in themselves but as an inseparable part of a whole.

Stinky or fragrant? Predicting changing odor preferences

Published in Neuron, the work shows how the activity of neurons in the olfactory processing center of the Drosophila brain can be decoded to predict behavioral responses to odors, and reveals that the relative preference of odors can flip depending on the situation.
Their model suggests that each glomerulus contributes to attraction or aversion with a specific weight. Summing the transformed and weighted activity of all glomeruli not only matched the real behavioral responses to the odors used to make the model, but also accurately predicted responses to new odorants. Kazama notes that contrary to the prevalent hypothesis in the field, the results imply that this computation does not rely on a small subset of glomeruli, but likely requires most, if not all, of them.

The model also predicted that the relative preference of odors would vary, and could even switch, depending on the nature of other odorants present in the environment.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Books About Smells

“Smelling the Books” performance by Rachael Morrison, Senior Library Assistant at MoMA

I’m straight copying this from Scented Pages, “the virtual library catalogue dedicated to the culture of smell.” They put together a great list, and these are some of the rare/more interesting ones I found.

Cosmologies, Structuralism, and the Sociology of Smell
Marcello Aspria, November 7, 2008

Stamelman, Richard, A Cultural History of Fragrance from 1750 to the Present. New York: Rizzoli (2006)

Smith, Mark M., Sensing the past: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching in history. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press (2007)

Moeran, Brian, 'Japanese Fragrance Descriptives and Gender Constructions: Preliminary Steps towards an Anthropology of Olfaction'. In: Etnofoor, XVIII (1), pp. 97-123 (2005)

Classen, Constance, Worlds of Sense: Exploring the Senses in History and Across Cultures. London, New York: Routledge (1993)

Collins, Randall, Four Sociological Traditions. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press (1994)
[haptic vs visual vs olfactory cultures]

Sagarin, Edward, The Science and Art of Perfumery. First edition. London, New York:
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. (1945)

The Sociology of Odors. Gale Peter Largey and David Rodney Watson. American Journal of Sociology. Vol. 77, No. 6 (May, 1972), pp. 1021-1034

Takagi, S. Human Olfaction: From Art to Science. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press (1989)

Ohloff, Gunther. Earthly Scents, Heavenly Pleasures: A Cultural History of Scents
New York: Wiley-VCH (2006)

Howes, David. "Olfaction and Transition", in: David Howes, ed. The Varieties of Sensory Experience: A Sourcebook in the Anthropology of the Senses. Toronto: University of Toronto Press (1991)

Bronwen, Martin, Felizitas Ringham (eds.). Sense and Scent: An Exploration of Olfactory Meaning. London: Philomel Productions Ltd (2004)

Blackson, Robert. If There Ever Was: a book of extinct and impossible smells. Sunderland: Art Editions North, University of Sunderland (2008)

Almagor, U. Odors and Private Language: Observations on the Phenomenology of Scent
in: Human Studies, vol. 13, pp. 253-74 (1990)