Extra sensory perception

Kevin Lewis

May 12, 2019

The influence of ambient scent temperature on food consumption behavior
Sarah Lefebvre & Dipayan Biswas
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming


This research examines the impact of ambient odor on food consumption. The results of a field experiment and 5 lab experiments show that the presence of a warm ambient odor (e.g., cedarwood) versus a cool ambient odor (e.g., eucalyptus) reduces the amount of calories consumed and also leads to increased choice of lower-calorie food options. This is attributable to established implicit associations formed from the human body’s innate physiological response to changes in ambient temperature. Specifically, exposure to a warm (vs. cool) ambient odor influences perceived ambient temperature, which in turn alters food consumption behaviors. The results of this research extend the limited research examining the temperature dimension of odor and enhance the understanding of the role of sensory cues in influencing food consumption. Further, given the link between calorie consumption and widespread obesity worldwide, this research provides important implications for health and wellbeing.

Filling an Empty Self: The Impact of Social Exclusion on Consumer Preference for Visual Density
Lei Su, Echo Wan Wen & Yuwei Jiang
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming


This research examines the effect of social exclusion on consumers’ preferences for visual density. Based on seven experimental studies, we reveal that consumers who perceive themselves as socially excluded evaluate products with dense visual patterns more positively than their non-excluded peers. This effect occurs because social exclusion triggers a feeling of psychological emptiness and dense patterns can provide a sense of being “filled,” which helps to alleviate this feeling of emptiness. This effect is attenuated when consumers physically fill something or experience a feeling of “temporal density” (i.e., imagining a busy schedule with many tasks packed into a short time). These results shed light on consumers’ socially grounded product aesthetic preferences and offer practical implications for marketers, designers, and policymakers.

The sound of speed: How grunting affects opponents’ anticipation in tennis
Florian Müller, Lars Jauernig & Rouwen Cañal-Bruland
PLoS ONE, April 2019


Grunting in tennis is a widespread phenomenon and whether it influences opponents’ predictions of ball trajectory—and if so, why—is subject of ongoing debate. Two alternative hypotheses have been proposed to explain why grunting may impede opponents’ predictions, referred to as the distraction account (i.e., grunts capture attentional resources necessary for anticipation) and the multisensory integration account (i.e., auditory information from the grunt systematically influences ball trajectory prediction typically assumed to rely on visual information). To put these competing hypotheses to test, in the current study we presented tennis players with a series of temporally occluded video clips of tennis rallies featuring experimentally amplified, attenuated, or muted grunting sounds. Participants were asked to predict the ball landing position. Results indicated that higher grunt intensities yielded judgments of longer ball trajectories whereas radial prediction errors were not affected. These results are clearly at odds with the distraction account of grunting, predicting increased prediction errors after higher intensity grunts. In contrast, our findings provide strong support for the multisensory integration account by demonstrating that grunt intensity systematically influences judgments of ball trajectory.

GPS-use negatively affects environmental learning through spatial transformation abilities
Ian Ruginski et al.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, August 2019, Pages 12-20


Research has established that GPS use negatively affects environmental learning and navigation in laboratory studies. Furthermore, the ability to mentally rotate objects and imagine locations from other perspectives (both known as spatial transformations) is positively related to environmental learning. Using previously validated spatial transformation and environmental learning tasks, the current study assessed a theoretical model where long-term GPS use is associated with worse mental rotation and perspective-taking spatial transformation abilities, which then predicts decreased ability to learn novel environments. We expected this prediction to hold even after controlling for self-reported navigation ability, which is also associated with better spatial transformation and environmental learning capabilities. We found that mental rotation and perspective-taking ability fully account for the effect of GPS use on learning of a virtual environment. This relationship remained after controlling for existing navigation ability. Specifically, GPS use is negatively associated with perspective-taking indirectly through mental rotation; we propose that GPS use affects the transformation ability common to mental rotation and perspective-taking.

Human non-olfactory cognition phase-locked with inhalation
Ofer Perl et al.
Nature Human Behaviour, forthcoming


Olfactory stimulus acquisition is perfectly synchronized with inhalation, which tunes neuronal ensembles for incoming information. Because olfaction is an ancient sensory system that provided a template for brain evolution, we hypothesized that this link persisted, and therefore nasal inhalations may also tune the brain for acquisition of non-olfactory information. To test this, we measured nasal airflow and electroencephalography during various non-olfactory cognitive tasks. We observed that participants spontaneously inhale at non-olfactory cognitive task onset and that such inhalations shift brain functional network architecture. Concentrating on visuospatial perception, we observed that nasal inhalation drove increased task-related brain activity in specific task-related brain regions and resulted in improved performance accuracy in the visuospatial task. Thus, mental processes with no link to olfaction are nevertheless phase-locked with nasal inhalation, consistent with the notion of an olfaction-based template in the evolution of human brain function.

Motivated level of construal: How temperature affects the construal level of state-relevant stimuli
Jochim Hansen & Janina Steinmetz
Motivation and Emotion, June 2019, Pages 434–446


Motivation affects perception, for example when people overestimate the psychological proximity of goal-relevant objects. Additionally, proximity maps onto more concrete (vs. abstract) construal. Following from these findings, we predicted that people construe goal-relevant stimuli more concretely than goal-irrelevant stimuli. Three experiments tested this idea (total N = 305). In Experiment 1, people who were warm (versus cold) grouped cold drinks into more and narrower categories, as cold drinks served their goal to cool off. In Experiment 2, heat simulations lead people to represent cooling actions (e.g., drinking cold water) in more concrete terms (i.e., as for how instead of why), whereas cold simulations lead people to represent warming actions in more concrete terms. In Experiment 3, participants evaluated heaters and ventilators based on concrete (i.e., single reviews) instead of abstract product information (i.e., overall ratings) if the product was motivationally relevant. These findings show that basic motivations can shift the level of abstraction at which people represent objects and actions.

Learning of social norms can lead to a persistent perceptual bias: A diffusion model approach
Markus Germar & Andreas Mojzisch
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming


In his seminal studies, Sherif (1935) showed that social norms can induce persistent changes in perceptual decisions. So far, however, the underlying mechanisms are not understood. Specifically, it is unclear whether social norms can lead to a persistent perceptual bias. Using a diffusion model analysis, we extended the social reinforcement account (social norms work via mechanisms of reinforcement learning). Thereby, our study is the first to disentangle whether the effect of social norms on perceptual decision-making is due to altering the uptake of sensory information (i.e., a perceptual bias) or due to shifting the decision criteria (i.e., a judgmental bias). Across two experiments, our results consistently show that learning of social norms shapes perceptual decision-making due to a lasting perceptual bias towards norm-congruent sensory information. This finding was not moderated by the sociality of the norm, that is, by how strongly norms were linked to group membership. Complementary to current psychological models, our results suggest that social norms might become and remain internalized because individuals are chronically biased towards norm-congruent information.

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