Gender differences in the retention of Swahili names for unfamiliar odors

Rochelle A. Dempsey*, Richard J. Stevenson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


Several studies, using different techniques, have established that women typically outperform men in naming odors. The mechanism for this effect was explored here in two experiments. In experiment 1, men and women learned randomly assigned Swahili names for a set of seven unfamiliar odors. Following multiple acquisition trials, participants were retested 1 week later. Although learning rates were identical during acquisition, after the 1 week interval, females were able to name more of the odors than men. Experiment 2 used a similar design but also included a retroactive interference task following the 1 week retention interval test. Although the week-long interval had the same effect as in experiment 1, interference had no effect on male or female performance. These results suggest that under conditions where experience is equated, female naming advantage may result from better consolidation of the learned material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-689
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002

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