Odors Summon Emotion And Influence Behavior, New Study Says

College students frustrated by playing a rigged computer game in a scented room later exhibited that frustration when they inhaled the same smell, according to a new study by a Brown University psychologist. The study provides further evidence for a growing body of research that indicates emotions can become conditioned to odors and subsequently influence behavior, according to Rachel S. Herz, assistant professor of psychology at Brown. Sixty-three female undergraduates at Brown University participated in the two-pronged study, which used novel scents developed in a laboratory so that the students would not have any previous emotional connections to them. Any potential subjects who noted that a scent “reminded” them of another smell did not take part.

Toy choice among boys, girls a matter of monkey business

Sure Santa Claus asks boys and girls what toys they want, but why they want them is a better question. The answer may have to do with a biological pre-wiring that influences boys’ and girls’ preferences based on the early roles of males and females. It’s commonly believed that boys and girls learn what types of toys they should like based solely on society’s expectations, but psychologist Gerianne Alexander’s work with vervet monkeys is challenging that notion. Alexander examined the monkeys as they interacted with toys. She and her collaborator, Melissa Hines of the University of London, found that the monkeys’ toy preferences were consistent along gender lines with those of human children. Though the monkeys had no concept of a “boy” toy and a “girl” toy, they still showed the same gender preferences in playing with the toys, Alexander says. That is, compared to female monkeys, male monkeys spent more time with “boy” toys, and the female monkeys, compared to their male counterparts, spent more time with “girl” toys.