Effects of Peppermint and Cinnamon Odor Administration on Simulated Driving Alertness, Mood and Workload

Raudenbush, Bryan; Grayhem, Rebecca; Sears, Tom; Wilson, Ian
July 2009
North American Journal of Psychology;2009, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p245
Academic Journal
Past research indicates the odors of peppermint and cinnamon (1) enhance motivation, performance, and alertness, (2) decrease fatigue, and (3) serve as central nervous system stimulants. Given these results, it is reasonable to expect that the presentation of peppermint or cinnamon odor while driving may produce a more alert and conscientious driver, and minimize the fatigue associated with prolonged driving. In the present study, participants were monitored during simulated driving under three odor conditions (peppermint, cinnamon, non-odor control). Odors were added to low flow oxygen (1.3L/min) via an oxygen concentrator and presented at the rate of 30 seconds every 15 minutes. Measures of cognitive performance, wakefulness, mood, and workload were also assessed. Both cinnamon and peppermint administration led to increased ratings of alertness, decreased temporal demand, and decreased frustration over the course of the driving scenario. In addition, peppermint scent reduced anxiety and fatigue. Periodic administration of these odors over prolonged driving may prove beneficial in maintaining alertness and decreasing highway accidents and fatalities.


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