Odors enhance visual attention to congruent objects

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Although it is well known that visual stimuli affect olfactory performance, little is known about the reverse case: the influence of odor on visual performance. This study aimed to determine whether odors can enhance attention towards visually presented objects congruent with the odors. Sixty healthy participants were presented with four odors (orange, lavender, coffee, and liquorice) before and during the presentation of photographic slides containing one congruent and three incongruent objects with the presented odors. The participants' visual attention was assessed as the total number and time of eye fixations by using an eye tracking system. When the participants smelled an odor, they looked more frequently and longer at a corresponding object as compared to the odorless condition. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate for the first time an olfactory priming effect on visual selective attention: odor can increase attention towards a congruent visual object as compared to a non-odor condition.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)544-549
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2010

    Research areas

  • Business psychology - Bottom-up, Congruency, Eye tracker, Odor, Olfactory priming, Visual attention