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Smell and Tell: Evoking Past Memories Using a Vanilla Odour

Authors Mikaela Magnusson
Sara Landström
Emma Roos Af Hjelmsäter
Published in The 7th annual conference of the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group (iIIRG). Lausanne, Switzerland, 4-6 June 2014
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords episodic memory, vanilla odour, witness recall, accuracy
Subject categories Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology), Applied Psychology


Odours have continuously been identified as effective memory cues to evoke past memories. The purpose of the present experiment was therefore to investigate if odour exposure during encoding and retrieval would facilitate memory recall. A 2 (Encoding: odour vs. no odour) x 2 (Retrieval: odour vs. no odour) between-subjects design was employed with 75 adolescents (Experiment I) and 97 undergraduate students (Experiment II). Amount and accuracy of recalled details from a video segment functioned as dependent variables. Both experiments showed that participants exposed to a vanilla odour during the memory test had a higher accuracy rate, compared to participants not exposed to vanilla during retrieval. Utilizing a pleasant odour may, thus, be very beneficial in an investigative interview setting. Not only could the odour enhance accuracy, smelling a pleasant scent during an investigative interview might also have positive effects (e.g. rapport building, mood and behavioural effects) on both the interviewer and the interviewee.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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