Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Flavour and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research

Differential effects of exposure to ambient vanilla and citrus aromas on mood, arousal and food choice

René A de Wijk1* and Suzet M Zijlstra2

Author Affiliations

1 WUR Food and Biobased Research, Consumer Science & Intelligent Systems, P.O. Box 17, Wageningen AA 6700, The Netherlands

2 Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, EV, 6700, The Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

Flavour 2012, 1:24  doi:10.1186/2044-7248-1-24

Published: 1 December 2012



Aromas have been associated with physiological, psychological affective and behavioral effects. We tested whether effects of low-level exposure to two ambient food-related aromas (citrus and vanilla) could be measured with small numbers of subjects, low-cost physiological sensors and semi-real life settings. Tests included physiological (heart rate, physical activity and response times), psychological (emotions and mood) and behavioral (food choice) measures in a semi-real life environment for 22 participants.


Exposure to ambient citrus aroma increased physical activity (P <0.05), shortened response times in young participants (P <0.05), decreased negative emotions (P <0.05), and affected food choice (P <0.05). Exposure to ambient vanilla aroma increased projected introvert emotions (P <0.05). All effects were small relative to estimated effect sizes.


The test battery used in this study demonstrated aroma-specific physiological, psychological and behavioral effects of aromas with similar appeal and intensities, and similar food-related origins. These effects could be measured in (semi-) real life environments for freely moving subjects using relatively inexpensive commercially available physiological sensors.

Ambient aroma; Behavior; Citrus; Food choice; Psychology; Olfactory effects; Performance; Physiology; Vanilla