This is the space for information on Dematte, Osterbauer and Spence's Study on Smells and Facial Attractiveness.

Arinelle Lewis
Asia Lewis
Emily SchwarckD,_O_&_S_(dragged).jpg
Johana Gonzalez

Background: Research has shown that visual aspects of a face (symmetry) can influence the degree of attractiveness. This is also true for people’s voices.Research has shown that there is a positive correlation between the favorableness of a man’s body odor and his facial attractiveness to women.

Aim 1)To determine whether briefly presented olfactory cues (smells) can modulate visual judgments of facial attractiveness. 2) To determine whether pleasant versus unpleasant olfactory cues can enhance and/ or reduce the perceived attractiveness of a given face.

Participants 16 untrained female participants
-All from the University of Oxford
-Mean age of 26 (range 20-34)
-All completed an initial questionnaire to ensure they had normal smell functions (i.e. are you suffering from a cold? Do you suffer from asthma?)
-Participants were naïve of the purpose of the experiment when they filled out the questionnaire (all ethical guidelines were followed)

Research Method: Experiment

How was data collected?: Participants were asked to rate the facial attractiveness on a 9-point scale. 1 = least attractive, 5 = neutral, 9 = most attractive. At the end of the trials, the participants were asked to rate each smell individually on different dimensions such as intensity, pleasantness and familiarity.

What type of data?: Quantitative

Procedure: Participants sat on a chair 70 cm from a computer screen with their chin on a chin rest. Participants stared a screen with a small cross. Instructed to exhale when they heard a quiet tone and inhale when they heard a loud tone. One of the 4 odors (or clean air) was given 500ms after the loud tone and the participants had to decide if an odor had been presented (press “z”) or not (press “m”). 1000ms after the odor, a face appeared on the screen for 500ms. When the face disappeared so did the odor and the screen returned to black. Participants were then asked to rate the facial attractiveness on a 9 point scale: 1 = least attractive, 5 = neutral, 9 = most attractive. Continue. The participants rested 5 minutes after every 40 trials.

Special Equipment: Olfactometer

Results: The crucial result to emerge from our study was that female participants consistently rated the male faces as being slightly, though significantly, less attractive when presented with an unpleasant odor than with a pleasant or neutral odor. No significant difference between pleasant and neutral odors.

Conclusions: Ratings were not affected by whether the odor was body relevant (body odor, male fragrance) or not (rubber, geranium). These results support previous research.

Strengths: High levels of control, randomization of smells to faces, pilot study

Weaknesses: 16 participants, all female, were they all heterosexual?, rating “attractiveness”, self-reports on a 1-9 scale

Ecological Validity: Low ecological validity-lab test

Ethics: N/A