Can food choice be influenced by priming with food odours?

M.R. Mors, I.A. Polet, M.H. Vingerhoeds, F.J.A. Perez-Cueto, R.A. de Wijk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research suggests that non-attentively perceived odours may significantly influence people's food choices. This study's aim was to examine the effects of different types of non-attentively perceived food odours, namely, bread odour and cucumber odour, on subsequent lunch choices in a real-life setting. The study was conducted using a within-participant design (n = 37, age 21–55 years). Participants took part in three sessions: two priming conditions (bread and cucumber odour) and one control condition (no odour). During each session, participants started by answering a questionnaire for20 min, in a room in which they were exposed to one of the odour conditions. The questionnaire functioned as a ‘lure’ task. Subsequently, participants were guided to the restaurant where they could choose lunch from a buffet. Besides lunch choice, sociodemographic factors, personality traits, and eating behaviour factors were assessed. Odour priming and control conditions did not affect lunch selections (χ 2 (2, N = 37) = 28.1, p = 0.46). Self-reported positive mood was significantly affected by odour condition (F (2, 72) = 3.26, p = 0.044). In conclusion, odour condition did affect mood but not lunch choice. It is therefore questionable whether an odour prime can be used as a nudge to contribute to healthy food choice behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-152
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Early online date31 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Food choice
  • Odour
  • Priming
  • Real life


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