This research was supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 307, B2) to W.M. and a postdoctoral grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Graduiertenkolleg Neurobiologie of Eberhard-Karls-Universitat Tübingen) to H.D.
Emotional qualities of odors and their influence on the startle reflex in humans
Article first published online: 30 JAN 2007
Volume 31, Issue 1, pages 107–110, January 1994
How to Cite
MILTNER, W., MATJAK, M., BRAUN, C., DIEKMANN, H. and BRODY, S. (1994), Emotional qualities of odors and their influence on the startle reflex in humans. Psychophysiology, 31: 107–110. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.1994.tb01030.x
We gratefully acknowledge the extensive help by Michael Coles on an earlier draft of this paper and the excellent technical assistance of Wolfgang Kern, Psychologisches Institut, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tubingen, during the development and maintenance of the olfactometer.
- Issue published online: 30 JAN 2007
- Article first published online: 30 JAN 2007
- (Received June 29, 1993; Accepted September 26, 1993)
- Startle reflex;
Recent human and animal research suggests that the startle reflex might serve as a psychophysiological indicator of the emotional valence of foreground stimulation. The present experiment was designed to evaluate the emotional effects of positive and negative odorant stimuli. We examined the effects of continuous hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and vanillin stimulation on the magnitude of the acoustic startle reflex (measured at the M. orbicularis oculi) and on ratings of subjective valence in 16 healthy subjects. In accordance with the view that odors have emotional qualities, we found that H2S, a presumed negative foreground stimulus, significantly enhanced the startle-reflex amplitude relative to neutral air stimulation, whereas vanillin, a positive foreground stimulus, tended to reduce the reflex amplitude compared with neutral air stimulation. Both odorant stimuli were rated as equally intense by the subjects, and heart rate and electrodermal activity were not affected differentially by the two odorants.