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It Smells Crowded: An Experimental Investigation of Olfactory Influence on Spatial Perception

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It Smells Crowded: An Experimental Investigation of Olfactory Influence on Spatial Perception

Poon, Tina (2013) It Smells Crowded: An Experimental Investigation of Olfactory Influence on Spatial Perception. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Smell is arguably the most impactful of the 5 senses since scent has close ties with emotion and memory. As a result many retailers infuse their stores with scents to alter a consumer’s impression of the environment. However, to date very little research has investigated whether scent can alter an individual’s perception of crowdedness. Spatial crowding is a huge issue for many stores because a crowded environment can induce anxiety and negative emotions in consumers. Thus, the present study examines whether scent can be used to impact a consumer’s perception of spatial crowding, and whether scent and crowdedness interact to influence anxiety levels. Furthermore, the present study examines whether scent influences the spatial size of objects.

This theory was tested in an experimental research study where 120 participants were asked to judge the volume of six containers and the size of room they were in. Participants were randomly placed in the no scent, spacious scent, or intimate scent condition. The test room was either crowded or not crowded. The results show that participants in the crowded condition, versus the not crowded condition, perceived the room as smaller and had lower room evaluations. In addition, participants in the crowded condition had higher levels of anxiety, however an intimate scent enhanced anxiety while a spacious scent reduced anxiety for those in the crowded room. In conclusion, managers should consider using scents in a crowded environment to reduce anxiety levels, but managers should be cautious to use an appropriate scent.

Divisions:Concordia University > John Molson School of Business > Marketing
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Poon, Tina
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M. Sc.
Program:Administration (Marketing option)
Date:26 February 2013
Thesis Supervisor(s):Grohmann, Bianca
ID Code:976957
Deposited By: TINA POON
Deposited On:12 Jun 2013 19:54
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:43
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