Mood induction with olfactory stimuli reveals differential affective responses in males and females

Chem Senses. 2009 Jan;34(1):77-84. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjn054. Epub 2008 Sep 11.


Olfactory perception is characterized by interpersonal variability. Although gender has been identified as a potential influencing factor, currently little is known about its effect on perceived hedonicity of individual odorants. This study assessed gender differences in emotional appraisal of 3 odorants (eugenol, vanillin, and hydrogen sulfide [H(2)S]), presented to 25 healthy subjects (13 males, 12 females) in a blocked design. Standardized scales rating valence and judgments of emotional experience were used for stimulus evaluation. Results indicate ambiguous pleasantness ratings for eugenol as well as stronger responses to vanillin odorant in female subjects; furthermore, in emotional experience ratings, the effect of eugenol was found to be gender dependent, evoking more positive and less negative emotions in female subjects than in males. The gender dependence of the mood response to eugenol necessitates reconsideration of this odorant as a reliable gender independent olfactory stimulus for studies on olfaction and emotion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odorants*
  • Sex Factors
  • Smell / physiology*