- 人間環境学研究 (ISSN:13485253)
- vol.17, no.1, pp.31-38, 2019 (Released:2019-08-05)
Phrases describing “sweetness” are commonly used to express romantic love and the quality of kindness, such as “my sweet love” and “she is a sweetie.” Recent research suggests that the experience of sweetness also affects one’s romantic perceptions and prosociality. However, because previous studies manipulated the experience of sweetness through taste, there exists the possibility that the results were derived not from the experience of sweetness itself but from other factors such as the calories of sweet foods. In addition, some of the findings in previous research, though not exactly the effects of the experience of sweetness, have not been replicated, meaning it is possible that the effects of the experience of sweetness also do not exist. Considering these, this study manipulated the experience of sweetness through scent and tested whether it affects romantic perceptions and prosociality. First, participants smelled a cotton puff on which a sweet scent was (or was not) put. Then, they answered questions regarding romantic interest, evaluation of a relationship with a hypothetical partner, and prosocial intention. The experience of sweetness did affect romantic interest and prosocial intention. However, the effects were contrary to those of previous research: sweet scent decreased romantic interest and prosocial intention. The opposing results may be interpreted by taking into consideration whether “comparison with the self” occurred or not. Specifically, participants in the sweet scent condition of this study felt that they were not sweet compared to the cotton puff because the cotton puff was outside of their bodies and, therefore, reported decreased romantic interest and prosocial intention. On the other hand, participants in the sweet food conditions of previous studies felt that they were sweet like the sweet foods because they had taken the sweetness into themselves and, therefore, reported increased romantic interest and prosocial intention. Overall, this study suggests the flexibility of the effects of the experience of sweetness.