Real and Imagined Smellscapes

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

4 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Article number718172
Journal / PublicationFrontiers in Psychology
Online published24 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021



The smellscape is the olfactory environment as perceived and understood, consisting of odours and scents from multiple smell sources. To what extent can audiovisual information evoke the smells of a real, complex, and multimodal environment? To investigate smellscape imagination, we compared results from two studies. In the first, onsite participants (N = 15) made a sensory walk through seven locations of an open-air market. In the second, online participants (N = 53) made a virtual walk through the same locations reproduced with audio and video recordings. Responses in the form of free-form verbal annotations, ratings with semantic scales, and a ‘smell wheel’, were analysed for environmental quality, smell source type and strength, and hedonic tone. The degree of association between real and imagined smellscapes was measured through canonical correlation analysis. Hedonic tone, as expressed through frequency counts of keywords in free-form annotations was significantly associated, suggesting that smell sources might generally be correctly inferred from audiovisual information, when such imagination is required. On the other hand, onsite ratings of olfactory quality were not significantly associated with online ratings of audiovisual reproductions, when participants were not specifically asked to imagine smells. We discuss findings in the light of cross-modal association, categorisation, and memory recall of smells.

Research Area(s)

  • smellscape, environment, perception, smell, imagination, memory, crossmodal, ODOR, TAXONOMY

Citation Format(s)

Real and Imagined Smellscapes. / Lindborg, PerMagnus; Liew, Kongmeng.
In: Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 12, 718172, 12.2021.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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