Beauty is in the Nose of the Beholder: Fragrance Modulates Attractiveness, Confidence and Femininity Ratings and Neural Responses to Faces of Self and Others.

Davies-Owen, Jennifer, Roberts, Hannah, Scott, Margaret, Thomas, Anna, Sen, Soumitra, Sethna, Simone, Roberts, Carl ORCID: 0000-0003-4275-601X, Giesbrecht, Timo and Fallon, Nicholas ORCID: 0000-0003-1451-6983
(2024) Beauty is in the Nose of the Beholder: Fragrance Modulates Attractiveness, Confidence and Femininity Ratings and Neural Responses to Faces of Self and Others. Behavioural brain research, 465. p. 114932.

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Previous research investigated cross-modal influence of olfactory stimuli on perception and evaluation of faces. However, little is known about the neural dynamics underpinning this multisensory perception, and no research examined perception for images of oneself, and others, in presence of fragrances. This study investigated the neural mechanisms of olfactory-visual processing using electroencephalography (EEG) and subjective evaluations of self- and other-images. 22 female participants evaluated images of female actors and themselves while being exposed to the fragrance of a commercially available body wash or clean air delivered via olfactometer. Participants rated faces for attractiveness, femininity, confidence and glamorousness on visual analogue scales. EEG data was recorded and event-related potentials (ERPs) associated with onset of face stimuli were analysed to consider effects of fragrance presence on face processing, and interactions between fragrance and self-other image-type. Subjective ratings of confidence, attractiveness and femininity were increased for both image-types in pleasant fragrance relative to clean air condition. ERP components covering early-to-late stages of face processing were modulated by the presence of fragrance. Findings also revealed a cross-modal fragrance-face interaction, with pleasant fragrance particularly affecting ERPs to self-images in mid-latency ERP components. RESULTS: showed that the pleasant fragrance of the commercially available body wash impacted how participants perceived faces of self and others. Self- and other-image faces were subjectively rated as more attractive, confident and feminine in the presence of the pleasant fragrance compared to an un-fragranced control. The pleasant fragrance also modulated underlying electrophysiological activity. For the first time, an effect of pleasant fragrance on face perception was observed in the N1 component, suggesting impact within 100 ms. Pleasant fragrance also demonstrated greater impact on subsequent neural processing for self, relative to other-faces. The findings have implications for understanding multisensory integration during evaluations of oneself and others.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Humans, Electroencephalography, Beauty, Evoked Potentials, Female, Femininity, Odorants
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Population Health
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2024 09:23
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2024 02:01
DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2024.114932
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