Current Research in Psychology

Olfaction and Emotion Content Effects for Memory of Vignettes

Jeremy W. Grabbe, Ann L. McCarthy, Charissa M. Brown and Arlene A. Sabo

DOI : 10.3844/crpsp.2010.53.60

Current Research in Psychology

Volume 1, Issue 1

Pages 53-60


Problem statement: Recent research has shown a relationship between olfaction and episodic/autobiographical memory. The mnemonic theory of odor asserts that odor representation and storage is tied to memory. The Proust phenomenon suggests that specifically episodic memory is the memory component behind the mnemonic theory of olfaction. Neurological evidence demonstrates that neural structures related to emotion have connections between olfactory receptors and the episodic memory center. Approach: This study examined the role of emotion and olfaction in memory for vignettes. Participants were presented with a series of vignettes that varied by emotional content. Olfactory cues were paired with vignettes. Participants were questioned over recall of the vignettes. Results: Two experiments demonstrated a significant effect for emotion in memory performance for vignettes. The role of olfaction was not as prominent. Conclusion/Recommendations: This confirms the Proust phenomenon olfaction, namely that olfaction plays a greater role in autobiographical memory than memory for vignettes. The generalization of the Proust phenomenon to nonautobiographical memory is not supported by the results of these two studies. The authors suggest future research examining the interaction between olfaction and emotion should be directed towards autobiographical memory.


© 2010 Jeremy W. Grabbe, Ann L. McCarthy, Charissa M. Brown and Arlene A. Sabo. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.