The effect of exposure to odor on the perception of pain


Martin, G. 2006. The effect of exposure to odor on the perception of pain. Psychomatic Medicine. 68 (4), pp. 613-616.
TitleThe effect of exposure to odor on the perception of pain
AuthorsMartin, G.

Objective: To investigate the effect of a pleasant and unpleasant ambient odor on the perception of human pain and to test two hypotheses of the role of distraction and attention in pain perception.
Method: Sixty healthy men and women experienced experimentally induced pain (cold-pressor test) during exposure to an ambient pleasant odor (lemon), an ambient unpleasant odor (machine oil), or no odor. Participants reported the degree of pain they experienced at 5-minute intervals for 15 minutes.
Results: Individuals exposed to both odors reported significantly greater pain than did those in the control condition at 5 minutes. At 15 minutes, individuals exposed to the unpleasant odor experienced greater pain than did the control group.
Conclusion: The results suggest that exposure to odors judged to be pleasant and unpleasant may not lead to pain relief. Rather, their perception is associated with greater pain than is no odor. The implications for attentional theories of pain are discussed, as are avenues for future research.

PublisherThe American Psychosomatic Society
JournalPsychomatic Medicine
Publication dates
Publication process dates
Deposited29 Dec 2009
Output statusPublished
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