We're More Likely to Be Kind to Each Other in Rooms That Smell GoodS

Want to promote an atmosphere of honesty and teamwork? Bust out some citrus candles and turn on all the lights. New studies show that little touches like these really can make a huge difference.

Chen-Bo Zhong, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto, recently concluded that people in lightly scented rooms show a greater willingness to act selflessly. In a series of experiments, Zhong found that people in rooms that had been sprayed with an air freshener were more likely to show an interest in volunteer work, and more likely to distribute money fairly in a trust-based investment game, than people in unscented rooms.

There's no word on whether bad smells can conversely make people act more selfishly, but in a separate study, Zhong learned that dim lighting might produce a similar effect. Test subjects in poorly lit rooms were more inclined to tell minor, self-serving lies on written tests than their counterparts in bright rooms. And along the same lines, Zhong found that participants had a greater tendency to donate money to anonymous partners if the participants were given glasses with clear lenses to wear, rather than sunglasses.

The solution here is clear: we need to invent some kind of long-burning light bulb that gives off a refreshing strawberry scent. Then everyone will be nicer to each other, and the world will smell delicious.

Clean smells promote generosity and fair play [Science Blogs]