[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
When you’re done listening to this podcast, grab whatever product you use to clean. Maybe it’s something that smells really citrusy. Do a bit of cleaning. Then take a few deep breaths. Believe it or not the odds are now higher that you’ll make decisions that are both more fair and more generous than you would have without smelling the cleanser. That’s according to research published in the journal Psychological Science.
Study subjects were tested in two different rooms. One room had recently been spritzed with citrus-scented glass cleaner. The first test evaluated fairness—how much real money the participants were willing to share with an anonymous partner in another room. Participants in the clean-smelling room offered twice as much cash.
In the second test, subjects gauged how interested they were in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and in donating money. Those in the clean-smelling room said they were significantly more interested in volunteering and almost three times more likely to donate money.
Researchers claim that clean smells thus promote moral behavior. And that schools, workplaces and stores could take advantage of the finding. So if you’re being virtuous, maybe you’re following the rules because you’re following your nose.