Tuesday, March 2, 2021



My exploration of the interplay between scent and the other senses began when I ran a sensory psychology research group for Givaudan-Roure fragrances. The company’s perfumers and fragrance evaluators talked about notes and accords using remarkably precise and vivid language. After taking part in smell training sessions, and meetings where we discussed potential fragrance submissions to clients, I began to think that these multisensory metaphors might have a measurable empirical basis. That was the hunch that sparked a research program that established the links between scent and the domains of color and auditory pitch.

I used those results to create practical commercial applications for the company, and later used similar techniques to help my own clients incorporate multisensory alignment in their product development work.

Over the years, cross-modal perception has really taken off as a research topic. The studies have come thick and fast: Does the color of the plate influence your liking of the food? Does the weight of a glass impact the flavor impression of your drink?

While these studies have been done by dozens of labs around the world, by far the most prolific and influential researcher is Charles Spence, a professor in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. Spence has created a Crossmodal Research Laboratory and spawned a number of very successful students. He has also been generous in citing my earlier work in his papers.

So I was pleasantly surprised to receive an advance copy of his latest book along with an inquiry from his publisher asking me to blurb it. In Sensehacking: How to Use the Power of Your Senses for Happier, Healthier Living, Spence applies the principles of multisensory perception to everyday life—he wants to help people declutter their sensorium in a practical way.

I liked the book well enough to offer a blurb. Lo and behold, not only did the publisher use it, but it made the front cover, beating out blurbs by five other Big Names who were relegated to the back of the dust jacket. </gloat>

“Spence does for the senses what Marie Kondo does for homes.”

Put that in your blurb bong and smoke it.

Sensehacking goes on sale in the USA on March 5. May he sell a million copies.

1 comment:

Peter Apps said...

Interesting, amd maybe cross-modal perception accounts partly for why animals' responses to scent are so erratically unpredictable as soon as they are outside the carefully controlled conditions of a laboratory.