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   2011, Vol. 43 Issue (10) : 1124-1137     DOI:
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Undergraduates’ Classification of Odor Terms: A Study Based on Semantic and Imagined Similarity
WANG Juan;SHEN Shu-Hua;ZHANG Ji-Jia
Center for Psychological Application, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
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Abstract  The world is suffused with various odors which are closely related to people’s life. Odors are not only non-ignorable in love scene and interpersonal communication but also irreplaceable to be as effective retrieval in criminal cues scouting. It also affects people’s physical and psychological health tremendously. However, few studies have focused on odor cognitions: it still lacks a uniform standard for classification of odor and basic odor categories has not been formed yet. Most of the previous studies investigated odors or odor categories based on semantics and perception. They focused on classification of specific odor or odor term clustering rather than getting the semantic space of odor or odor terms and summarization of standards of smell term clustering. Most studies highlighted the properties of odor presentation or culture’s influence on classification rather than the discovery of inner mechanism of classification. The aims of the recent study were to explore standards of odor terms classification and mechanisms of interaction of odor concepts and to observe concept organization under Chinese culture to reveal how Chinese construct concept of odor terms.
Ninety college students including 40 males and 50 females were enrolled in the recent study. In Experiment 1, participants were asked to classify 60 daily odor-terms on the basis of semantic similarity. In Experiment 2, participants were instructed to imagine the odors of the 60 odor terms and classify them on the basis of imagined similarity. Data were analyzed with Multi-Dimensional Scaling and Hierarchical clustering program in SPSS 13.0.
The results of Experiment 1 showed that semantic space of the 60 odor terms contains two dimensions: (1) food related/not food related, (2) artificiality objects/natural objects. Sixty odor terms were classified into 2 groups including food related odors and not food related odors with 6 sub-groups: (1) fruit, (2) food and man-made drinks, (3) meal and condiment, (4) natural plant and flowers, (5) human body and excretions, and (6) natural non-food. The results of Experiment 2 showed that semantic space of the 60 odor terms contains two dimensions: (1) pleasure, (2) density. Sixty odor terms were classified into 2 groups including pleasant odors and disgusting odors with 4 sub-groups, they were: (1) sweet, (2) objectionable (Ⅰ), (3) objectionable (Ⅱ), (4) fetid. Spearman correlation analysis of two kinds of classification’s coordinate value showed that “food related/not food related” dimension was significantly correlated with “pleasure” dimension and “man-made/natural” dimension was moderately correlated with “density” dimension. The classifications based on semantic similarity and perception similarity had not only some similarities but also some differences. Processing of one item would change with various classification scenes, showing that the conceptual system of human is flexible. The classification of odor-terms on imagined conditions revealed not only Chinese culture classification standard but also the semantic space and conceptual structure dimensions of Chinese culture.
In summary, this study showed that: (1) On semantic condition, undergraduates classified the odor-terms according to objects’ function (food related/not food related) and the nature of semantics (artificiality objects/natural objects); (2) On imaginary condition, undergraduates classified the odor-terms according to odor’s feeling tone (pleasure) and intensity (density); (3) Odor-terms have rough semantic features, prototype played an important role in odor-terms’ concept organization; (4) Undergraduates’ classification of odor-terms between males and females were unanimous mainly but also remaining gender differences between some odor-items.
Keywords undergraduates      odor-terms classifying      semantic similarity      conceptual similarity     
Corresponding Authors: ZHANG Ji-Jia   
Issue Date: 30 October 2011
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WANG Juan
SHEN Shu-Hua
ZHANG Ji-Jia
Cite this article:   
WANG Juan,SHEN Shu-Hua,ZHANG Ji-Jia. Undergraduates’ Classification of Odor Terms: A Study Based on Semantic and Imagined Similarity[J]. , 2011, 43(10): 1124-1137.
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http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/      OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2011/V43/I10/1124
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[3] Wan Minggang,Wang Yapeng. ETHNIC IDENTITY OF TIBETAN UNDERGRADUATES[J]. , 2004, 36(01): 83-88.
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