The influence of ambient scent temperature on food consumption behavior

J Exp Psychol Appl. 2019 Dec;25(4):753-764. doi: 10.1037/xap0000226. Epub 2019 Apr 29.


This research examines the impact of ambient odor on food consumption. The results of a field experiment and 5 lab experiments show that the presence of a warm ambient odor (e.g., cedarwood) versus a cool ambient odor (e.g., eucalyptus) reduces the amount of calories consumed and also leads to increased choice of lower-calorie food options. This is attributable to established implicit associations formed from the human body's innate physiological response to changes in ambient temperature. Specifically, exposure to a warm (vs. cool) ambient odor influences perceived ambient temperature, which in turn alters food consumption behaviors. The results of this research extend the limited research examining the temperature dimension of odor and enhance the understanding of the role of sensory cues in influencing food consumption. Further, given the link between calorie consumption and widespread obesity worldwide, this research provides important implications for health and wellbeing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odorants*
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Temperature*
  • Young Adult