Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Odor, adult attachment and emotions in romantic relationships
by Streeter, Sybil Anne, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2008, 98; 3349242
Abstract (Summary)

This study explored the reasons why people commonly smell the clothing of loved ones. Romantic partners' scents were compared with (1) that of an unknown other person (placebo) or (2) a neutral odor (control) to examine their effect on anxiety, negative affect and feelings of comfort. Adult attachment was also measured dimensionally with the Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) Relationship Questionnaire (RQ). All participants rated themselves on each attachment dimension (Secure, Fearful, Preoccupied and Dismissing). Participants presented with the scent of their partner experienced significant increases in comfort when compared to both placebo and control odor, and decreased anxiety and negative affect when compared to neutral odor. Scent of partners and unknown persons were equivalent in their ability to decrease the aversive emotions. Highly Secure participants showed improved comfort and reduced anxiety regardless of condition. Low Fearfulness predicted recovery from anxiety and negative affect regardless of odor. Participants higher in fearfulness had greater decreases in anxiety in the partner condition than those in the control condition. Highly Preoccupied individuals presented with their partner's scent experienced reduction of anxiety when compared to the scent of another person (but not when compared to neutral). An interaction was observed for reduction of negative affect wherein highly preoccupied individuals experienced greater buffering of anxiety when exposed to their partners scent and less when exposed to the scent of an unknown person, whereas those lower on preoccupation did not differ in their response to the scents. Human scents accentuated the decrease in anxiety for those high in fearfulness. Results are discussed in terms of "olfactory comfort," and implications for affect regulation are addressed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McBurney, Donald H.
School: University of Pittsburgh
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-B 70/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychobiology, Social psychology
Keywords: Adult attachment, Attachment, Emotion, Odor, Olfaction, Romantic relationships
Publication Number: 3349242
ISBN: 978-1-109-05425-5
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