There has been wide debate about the degree to which humans are impacted by olfaction. Despite former assumptions that we are dominantly visual/auditory creatures, recent studies suggest that humans are more highly macrosmatic than originally thought. Humans have demonstrated behavioral, physiological, cognitive and affective responses to olfactory stimuli even when the stimuli were perceived unconsciously. The mechanism by which humans perceive these signals is unclear; there is much debate as to whether the vomeronasal organ is functional in humans. Regardless of the mechanism of perception, it is clear olfaction is psychologically impactful for humans. The following literature review summarizes research in the field related to olfactory functioning and perception. The review discusses animals and their interactions with and use of olfactory cues, the human olfactory system, parallels among animals and humans in reactions to odorants, human sensitivity to odorants, and the vomeronasal organ debate. Human research areas included in the review: human-odorant interaction, odor as an identification marker for individual humans, human psychological response to odors, the impact of odor on human affect and sexual behavior, odor production and preference linked to human characteristics, and the effect of odor on human learning.
School of Behavioral Health
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Humans; Olfactory Perception; Receptors - Odorant; Sense Organs; Smell - Psychology; Pheromones - Human; Follicle Stimulating Hormone; Evoked Potentials - Somatosensory
Subject - Local
Olfaction; Psychological Impact; Odorants; Human Sensitivity to Odorants; Vomeronasal Organ Debate
Loma Linda University Libraries
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Kelly, Catherine Jameson Lee, "Human Olfactory Perception: A Literature Review" (2015). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. Paper 273.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives