The effect of exposure to odor on the perception of pain

Martin, G. Neil (2006) The effect of exposure to odor on the perception of pain. Psychomatic Medicine, 68 (4). pp. 613-616. ISSN 0033-3174

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Abstract

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.

Item Type:Article
Research Areas:School of Health and Education > Health & Education
Citations on ISI Web of Science:5
ID Code:3511
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Deposited On:29 Dec 2009 05:37
Last Modified:09 Jan 2014 06:30

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