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Perfumes between Venus and Mars: How gender categorization of perfumes is (not) related to odor perception and odor preference
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

How we smell is important to a lot of people, as indicated by the high spending on perfumes. Most perfumes are categorized as feminine or masculine, and this gender categorization is an important factor when people purchase perfumes. This thesis explores odor perception and perfume preference when the person sniffing the perfume does not know the commercial gender categorization. Three psychophysical experiments were conducted, in which the participants scaled the femininity and masculinity of the perfumes, indicated preferences, and gender categorized the perfumes. The perfumes were presented both in glass bottles and when applied on human skin. Results of three experiments indicate that female and male participants (20–30 years old) preferred the same perfumes, both for themselves and for their potential partners. The preferred perfumes tended to be “unisex,” that is, perceived as neither strongly feminine nor strongly masculine. The participants did not succeed well in identifying the commercial gender categorizations of the perfumes, and they did not succeed in guessing the gender of the human when the perfumes were applied on human skin. The commercial gender associations of the perfumes only corresponded to how they were perceived in the case of extremely feminine or extremely masculine perfumes. I conclude that the gender categorizations of most perfumes are not related to how they are actually perceived.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Department of Psychology, Stockholm University , 2013. , 52 p.
Keyword [en]
odor perception, perfumes, femininity, masculinity, gender-sensitive research, gender differences
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88139ISBN: 978-91-7447-645-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-88139DiVA: diva2:609754
Public defence
2013-04-12, David Magnussonsalen (U31), hus 8, Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defence the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript.

Available from: 2013-03-21 Created: 2013-03-07 Last updated: 2013-03-20Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Perfume preferences and how they are related to commercial gender classifications of fragrances
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Perfume preferences and how they are related to commercial gender classifications of fragrances
2012 (English)In: Chemosensory perception, ISSN 1936-5802, Vol. 5, no 2, 197-204 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Perfumes are claimed to be an important factor in human social communication. Previous research on perfumes has mainly considered masculinity and femininity as two opposite poles of the same scale, while in this study, 18 naive participants scaled the femininity and masculinity of 12 perfumes as two independent attributes. They also indicated if they wanted to use the perfumes themselves (self-preference), if they wanted their partners to use the perfumes (partner preference), and the perceived pleasantness. It was found that higher scores of pleasantness were assigned to fragrances for daytime wear. Based on the olfactory description of perfumes available on the web (www.fragrantica.com), a method is proposed to predict the perceived femininity. Predicted values were strongly correlated (r = 0.87, p = 0.0002) with femininity ratings obtained from the panel. The results show that self-preference and partner preference were positively correlated with each other (r = 0.84, p < 0.001) and with the pleasantness, indicating that if the participants liked a perfume, they both wanted to use it themselves and wanted their partner to use it. Nonetheless, the observed correlation is influenced by one perfume that was perceived as unpleasant, and further studies will be required to better understand the gender associations of perfumes and their impact on self-preference and partner preference.

Keyword
Perfumes, Gender, Femininity, Masculinity, Odor perception, Olfaction
National Category
Neurology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-79778 (URN)10.1007/s12078-012-9119-7 (DOI)000303582900007 ()
Note

AuthorCount:1;

Available from: 2012-09-12 Created: 2012-09-11 Last updated: 2013-03-07Bibliographically approved
2. Gender categorization of perfumes: The difference between odor perception and commercial classification
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gender categorization of perfumes: The difference between odor perception and commercial classification
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88134 (URN)
Available from: 2013-03-06 Created: 2013-03-06 Last updated: 2013-03-07
3. Preference and gender associations of perfumes applied on human skin
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Preference and gender associations of perfumes applied on human skin
2012 (English)In: Journal of sensory studies, ISSN 0887-8250, E-ISSN 1745-459X, Vol. 27, no 6, 490-497 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The perception of fragrances has been a growing field of interest, where perfumes classified as either typically feminine or typically masculine primarily have been used as stimuli. The current study explored gender associations and preferences of more unisex perfumes found in the middle of a gender continuum of fragrances, both when the fragrances were applied on humans, and when they were presented in glass bottles. Blindfolded participants indicated if they wanted to use the fragrances themselves, if they wanted their partner to use the perfumes, scaled gender associations (femininity and masculinity) for each perfume and tried to guess the gender of the person each perfume was applied on when not presented in a bottle. Results show that the gender of the person that the perfume was applied on did not affect the participants' preference or their gender scaling. Moreover, the preference did not differ between female and male participants, indicating that the commercial gender categorization is less important to the perfume consumers. Practical Implications On the commercial market, most perfumes are classified as either feminine or masculine, although the odor quality of feminine and masculine odors are overlapping and constitute a continuum rather than two separate clusters of odors. Earlier research has shown that participants tend to prefer perfumes positioned in the middle of this gender continuum. The current study investigates gender associations and preferences of perfumes from the middle of the gender continuum while these are applied on humans. When blindfolded participants evaluated their perception of the perfumes in this study, it became clear that neither the gender of the humans that the perfumes were applied on, nor the commercial gender labeling of the perfumes were important to their perception. Consequently, the commercial gender categorization does not seem to be sufficient for all perfumes. Instead, the classification of perfumes could be according to other aspects, e.g., according to odor quality.

National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-86492 (URN)10.1111/joss.12014 (DOI)000312246500010 ()
Note

AuthorCount:1

Available from: 2013-01-14 Created: 2013-01-14 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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