There is extensive evidence that social identities can shape people's attitudes and behavior, but what about sensory judgments? We examined the possibility that social identity concerns may also shape the judgment of non-social properties - namely, olfactory judgment. In two experiments, we presented Swiss and non-Swiss participants with the odor of chocolate, for which Switzerland is world-famous, and a control odor (popcorn). Swiss participants primed with Swiss identity reported the odor of chocolate (but not popcorn) as more intense than non-Swiss participants (Experiments 1 and 2) and than Swiss participants primed with individual identity or not primed (Experiment 2). The self-reported intensity of chocolate smell tended to increase as identity accessibility increased - but only among Swiss participants (Experiment 1). These results suggest that identity priming can counter-act classic sensory habituation effects, allowing identity-relevant smells to maintain their intensity after repeated presentations. This suggests that social identity dynamically influences sensory judgment. We discuss the potential implications for models of social identity and chemosensory perception.
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