Publications by authors named "Theo J A van Aerts"

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From sterile labs to rich VR: Immersive multisensory context critical for odors to induce motivated cleaning behavior.

Behav Res Methods 2020 08;52(4):1657-1670

Department of Psychology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80140, 3508 TC, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Extending traditional research methods for studying the effects of odor on behavior, this study applied virtual reality (VR) to create a real-world, immersive context that was compared with a traditional sterile, non-immersive lab setting. Using precise odor administration with olfactometry, participants were exposed to three odors (cleaning-related pleasant smell, cleaning-unrelated pleasant smell: vanillin, and odorless air). Our aim was to tease apart whether participants' motivation to clean was driven by cleaning associations and/or odor pleasantness, and how context would accentuate these effects. The results indeed showed that, in VR only, the cleaning-related smell elicited faster and more energetic cleaning behavior on a custom-designed cleaning task, and faster and more voluminous olfactory sampling compared with controls (vanillin, air). These effects were not driven by odor valence, given the general absence of significant differences between the pleasant control odor vanillin and odorless air. In sum, combining rigorous experimental control with high ecological validity, this research shows the context dependency of (congruent) odors affecting motivated behavior in an immersive context only.
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August 2020