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Psychol Rep. 2004 Oct;95(2):707-22.

Scent and mood state following an anxiety-provoking task.

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  • 1Psychology Division, Western Oregon University, Monmouth, OR 97361, USA.


The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of water, lavender, or rosemary scent on physiology and mood state following an anxiety-provoking task. The nonsmoking participants, ages 18-30 years, included 42 women and 31 men who reported demographic information and measures of external temperature and heart rate were taken prior to introduction of an anxiety-eliciting task and exposure to lavender, rosemary, or water scents. Following the task, participants completed the Profile of Mood States to assess mood, and temperature and heart rate were reassessed. Participants rated the pleasantness of the scent received. When pleasantness ratings of scent were covaried, physiological changes in temperature and heart rate did not differ based on scent exposure, but mood ratings differed by scent condition. Participants in the rosemary condition scored higher on measures of tension-anxiety and confusion-bewilderment relative to the lavender and control conditions. The lavender and control conditions showed higher mean vigor-activity ratings relative to the rosemary group, while both rosemary and lavender scents were associated with lower mean ratings on the fatigue-inertia subscale, relative to the control group. These results suggest that, when individual perception of scent pleasantness is controlled, scent has the potential to moderate different aspects of mood following an anxiety-provoking task.

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