Disgust lowers olfactory threshold: a test of the underlying mechanism

Chan, Kai Qin, van Dooren, Roel, Holland, Rob W., and van Knippenberg, Ad (2020) Disgust lowers olfactory threshold: a test of the underlying mechanism. Cognition and Emotion, 34 (3). pp. 621-627.

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The olfactory system provides us with rich information about the world, but the odours around us are not always detectable. Previous research has shown that disgust enhances olfactory sensitivity to n-butanol. Because n-butanol incidentally is mildly negative, it is unclear whether disgust, being a negative, avoidant emotion, enhances sensitivity to stimuli with negative qualities (valence-fit effect), or across stimuli in general (general sensitivity effect). Here we tested these competing hypotheses by examining thresholds to two scents, one positive (phenylethanol) and one mildly negative (n-butanol), during a disgust, happiness, and neutral emotion induction. We found that exposure to disgusting pictures lowered olfactory threshold across both scents. Thus our current results replicated the results of previous research, and also revealed support for a general sensitivity rather than a valence-fit effect. This suggests that disgust facilitates the perceptual detection of extremely faint targets presumably because avoidant emotions enhance perceptual vigilance in general.

Item ID: 61062
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1464-0600
Keywords: Disgust, threshold, sensitivity, olfaction
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Copyright Information: © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Funders: Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
Projects and Grants: NWO grant number 404-10-078
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2019 23:27
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5204 Cognitive and computational psychology > 520401 Cognition @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences @ 100%
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