Olfactory Conditioning of Positive Performance in Humans

Chu, Simon orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8921-4942 (2008) Olfactory Conditioning of Positive Performance in Humans. Chemical Senses, 33 (1). pp. 65-71. ISSN 0379-864X

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bjm063


Olfactory conditioning effects have been widely demonstrated in the animal literature but more seldom in human populations and rarely of consciously controlled human behaviors. Building upon previous work on negative performance, we report the first experimental evidence that odors can be used effectively in a classical conditioning paradigm to positively influence human behavior. In the present study, underachieving schoolchildren experienced unexpected success at a paper-and-pencil task in the presence of an ambient odor. When they later experienced the same odor again, performance on other tasks was superior to that of relevant control groups. These data substantially extend previous results on human olfactory classical conditioning and show that odors potentially can be used to exert positive influences on human behavior.

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