Risk related behaviour under different ambient scent conditions

Alina Gagarina, Indre Pikturniene


The article analyses the effect of two ambient scents (peppermint and vanilla) and their intensiveness on risk related behaviour that is expressed through selected decision making heuristics.
Purpose of the article: The purpose of this article is to identify the relationship of ambient scent type and intensiveness with risk related behaviour that is expressed through selected decision making heuristics.
Methodology/methods: 2×2 factorial experiment with control group was run. Ambient scent type (vanilla vs. peppermint) and intensiveness (8 (1mg) vs. 16 sprays (2mg) of scent concentrate in the same room) were manipulated as between subject variables. Risk aversion, effect of anchoring heuristic on bidding, and affect (risk and benefit) heuristics were tracked as dependent variables.
Scientific aim: To identify whether ambient scent type and intensiveness have effect on risk related behaviour.
Findings: Evidence suggests that there are effects of ambient scent on risk related behaviour, thus fulfilling the missing gap to relate ambient environment to decision making heuristics when risks are involved. However, not all heuristics were affected by experimental conditions. Subjects were bidding significantly higher amounts under low anchor conditions, when peppermint scent was around (if compared to vanilla group). Affect risk was perceived as lower in peppermint ambient scent conditions, if compared to the control group. Intensity of ambient scent also had influence on affect risk: subjects perceived less risk under high scent intensity conditions.
Conclusions: By manipulating ambient scent, marketers may reduce or increase consumers risk perception and behaviour and as a consequence influence their purchase decisions. Marketers could use peppermint scent in high intensiveness in the situations where they want consumers to undertake higher risks (expensive purchases, gambling, insurance), since stakes were higher under peppermint ambient scent condition, and risk was perceived as lower.


Ambient scent; decision making heuristics; risk aversion; anchoring; affect heuristic.

JEL Classification


Full Text:

Online: 2016-10-04

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13164/trends.2016.26.21