The Scent of Collaboration: Exploring the Efect of Smell on Social Interactions
Social interactions are multisensory experiences. However, it is not well understood how technology-mediated smell can support social interactions, especially in collaborative tasks. To explore its effect on collaboration, we asked eleven pairs of users to work together on a writing task while wearing an interactive jewellery designed to emit scent in a controlled fashion. In a within-subjects experiment, participants were asked to collaboratively write a story about a standardized visual stimulus while exposed to with scent and without scent conditions. We analyzed video recordings and written stories using a combination of methods from HCI, psychology, sociology, and human communication research. We observed differences in both participants' communication and creation of insightful stories in the with scent condition. Furthermore, scent helped participants recover from communication breakdown even though they were unaware of it. We discuss the possible implications of our findings and the potential of technology-mediated scent for collaborative activities.