Research Articles

Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 71, Issue 2, pp 225-247

First online:

Understanding the underlying dimensions in perfumers’ odor perception space as a basis for developing meaningful odor maps

  • Manuel ZarzoAffiliated withDepartment of Applied Statistics, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia Email author 
  • , David T. StantonAffiliated withProcter & Gamble Company


Various low-dimensional perceptual maps of fragrances have been proposed in the literature, as well as sensory maps for the odor descriptors most frequently applied in perfumery. To reach a consensus, however, seems difficult, if at all possible. In the present study, we applied principal components analysis to two databases. The first contains numeric odor profiles of 309 compounds based on 30 descriptors. The loading plot corresponding to the relevant components was strikingly similar to the odor effects diagram proposed by P. Jellinek (1951), primarily on the basis of his long experience as a perfumer. We obtained similar results in our analysis of the second database, which comprises 66 descriptors and contains the semantic descriptions of 119 perfume materials. On the basis of the results of both analyses, a commercial map of fragrances is discussed. Our findings suggest that it is possible to develop standard sensory maps of perfumery odor descriptors, if a consensus is first reached regarding which odorants best represent particular odor qualities.