Olfactory categorization: A developmental study

UMR, Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation (CSGA) 6265, CNRS, INRA, Université de Bourgogne, F-21000 Dijon, France.
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.12). 07/2012; 113(3):337-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.05.007
Source: PubMed


This study examined the ability of children to classify fruit and flower odors. We asked four groups of children (4-11years of age) and a group of adults to identify, categorize, and evaluate the edibility, liking, and typicality of 12 fruit and flower odors. Results showed an increase in interindividual agreement with age for the taxonomic (fruit/flower) and function-based (edible/nonedible) categories but not for the hedonic component. So, it seems that this hedonic component is not the explicit basis for this increase in interindividual agreement when categorizing an odor as a fruit/flower odor or as being edible or nonedible. An age-related trend was also observed on the typicality scores: The youngest group of children did not show a typicality gradient, but all of the other groups did. Blackcurrant and lemon were rated as the most typical fruit odors, whereas raspberry and peach were rated as the least typical. For flower odorants, results were not as clear, yet it seems that for all groups lavender was considered as quite typical.

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