Olfaction and young children's preferences: A comparison of odor and visual cues

Richard Fabes, Erik E. Filsinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


This research compared the relative contributions of odor and visual cues in determining young children's preferences. Thirty-two children were assigned randomly to one of four groups that differed in the order in which odorants and colors were presented. The children were tested in two sessions which differed in terms of the odorant concentrations (16 or 1,600 times threshold). On each occasion, the children were presented with four bottles which contained colored flowers (red, purple, orange, and yellow) and different odors (benzaldehyde, dimethyl disulfide, androstenone, and no odor). The children were asked to verbally indicate their odor preferences and then were asked to select the bottles they preferred. The results indicated that children failed to differen-tiate among the odors via self-report indices. At low concentrations, children's behavioral preferences were significantly influenced by color (red and purple were most preferred, yellow and orange were least preferred), but not odor. At higher concentrations, children's behavioral preferences were significantly influenced by odor (benzaldehyde most preferred, dimethyl disulfide least preferred), but not color. The results suggest that although there are general color preferences, children's odor preferences depend on intensity. Issues relevant to future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-176
Number of pages6
JournalPerception & Psychophysics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1986


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this