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An examination of olfactory ability and adult attachment styles

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posted on 2022-03-28, 12:35 authored by Christine Leonards
Olfaction is the oldest sense in humans yet remains the least researched and least understood of the five senses. The olfactory system is most typically thought to be important only for its practical functions in smell and taste. However, olfaction researchers overwhelmingly agree that this chemosensory sense is much more sophisticated than these basic functions. Recent research has begun to explore the role of olfaction in social functions such as emotions and relationships. The thesis aimed to investigate the previous research on olfactory functioning with respect to its role and influence in social contexts, and highlight the key social areas where olfaction has been implicated. The literature review examined previous olfaction research in order to highlight the importance of this sensory system, then present research that points to the role of olfaction in facilitating relationships. The empirical study focused on olfactory ability and, in particular, its relationship with adult attachment styles. Participants (N= 80) completed a series of questionnaires measuring attachment and relationship styles, empathy, and psychological well being (DASS-21). In addition, participant evaluated the significance of their sense of smell, and completed three olfactory tasks (Sniffin Sticks) that test odor threshold, discrimination and identification ability. Empirical findings are presented and discussed with respect to existing research. This is the first study to specifically study olfactory ability and attachment. Given the robust links between olfaction, emotions and relationship factors, more research is needed in this area in order to gain a better understanding of the influence of olfaction in social relations.


Table of Contents

Literature review: the importance of olfaction in social communication, emotions and relationships -- An empirical investigation: an examination of attachment styles and olfactory ability.


At head of title: Running head: Olfactory ability and adult attachment. Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 66-76

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Mehmet Mahmut


Copyright Christine Leonards 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




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