Odor and Emotion

  • Sylvain Delplanque
  • Géraldine Coppin
  • David Sander
Part of the Springer Handbooks book series (SPRINGERHAND)


This chapter advocates for adopting a theoretical and experimental approach that goes beyond the use of valence as the most interesting dimension in emotional reaction to odors.

Although valence is a dominant dimension of odor perception, limiting the description of emotional response to positive versus negative (valence) and activating versus calming (arousal ) feelings is perhaps oversimplified and not well suited for a comprehensive view of odor-related effects. Just as inappropriate are basic emotions , usually defined as six states (fear, anger, sadness, surprise, joy or happiness, and disgust) putatively characterized by specific neural, physiological, expressive, and feeling components. Here, we present an appraisal approach of emotions as a plausible alternative. This kind of approach reconciles a priori incompatible characteristics observed in odor perception like the immutability and the flexibility of chemosensory preferences. After having exemplified this aspect with several studies from the recent literature, we will particularly emphasize feelings. We provide an empirical demonstration that feelings are broader than valence and both stable and variable across cultures. We argue that this approach provides an ecological model of the emotion process where olfactory emotions are understood considering their functional role, which is to adjust or to solve olfactory-linked survival-relevant problems.


emotion and odor scales


pleasure, arousal, and dominance


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvain Delplanque
    • 1
  • Géraldine Coppin
    • 2
  • David Sander
    • 1
  1. 1.Swiss Center for Affective SciencesUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.The John B. Pierce LaboratoryYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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