You are here: Home Publications Odor naming is difficult, even for wine and coffee experts

Odor naming is difficult, even for wine and coffee experts

Croijmans, I., & Majid, A. (2015). Odor naming is difficult, even for wine and coffee experts. In D. C. Noelle, R. Dale, A. S. Warlaumont, J. Yoshimi, T. Matlock, C. D. Jennings, & P. P. Maglio (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2015) (pp. 483-488). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. Retrieved from https://mindmodeling.org/cogsci2015/papers/0092/index.html.
Odor naming is difficult for people, but recent cross-cultural research suggests this difficulty is culture-specific. Jahai speakers (hunter-gatherers from the Malay Peninsula) name odors as consistently as colors, and much better than English speakers (Majid & Burenhult, 2014). In Jahai the linguistic advantage for smells correlates with a cultural interest in odors. Here we ask whether sub-cultures in the West with odor expertise also show superior odor naming. We tested wine and coffee experts (who have specialized odor training) in an odor naming task. Both wine and coffee experts were no more accurate or consistent than novices when naming odors. Although there were small differences in naming strategies, experts and non-experts alike relied overwhelmingly on source-based descriptions. So the specific language experts speak continues to constrain their ability to express odors. This suggests expertise alone is not sufficient to overcome the limits of language in the domain of smell.
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.

 

Street address
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands


Mailing address
P.O. Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Phone:   +31-24-3521911
Fax:        +31-24-3521213
E-mail:   


Public Outreach Officer
Charlotte Horn