Crossmodal effect of music and odor pleasantness on olfactory quality perception.
Velasco C., Balboa D., Marmolejo-Ramos F., Spence C.
Previous research has demonstrated that ratings of the perceived pleasantness and quality of odors can be modulated by auditory stimuli presented at around the same time. Here, we extend these results by assessing whether the hedonic congruence between odor and sound stimuli can modulate the perception of odor intensity, pleasantness, and quality in untrained participants. Unexpectedly, our results reveal that broadband white noise, which was rated as unpleasant in a follow-up experiment, actually had a more pronounced effect on participants' odor ratings than either the consonant or dissonant musical selections. In particular, participants rated the six smells used as being less pleasant and less sweet when they happened to be listening to white noise, as compared to any one of the other music conditions. What is more, these results also add evidence to support the existence of a close relationship between an odor's hedonic character and the perception of odor quality. So, for example, independent of the sound condition, pleasant odors were rated as sweeter, less dry, and brighter than the unpleasant odors. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for the understanding of crossmodal correspondences between olfactory and auditory stimuli.