Clean Scents May Promote Morally Good Behaviors

In an effort to control and improve behaviors among the general public, whether focusing on theft prevention in stores or the establishment of good habits among children, various methods are employed, all with varying degrees of efficacy. From talking to passive suggestions and even threats and violence, people may resort to all manner of measures to seek positive behavior in others. But a new study based at Brigham Young University presents evidence suggesting that something as simple as a clean scent may achieve this goal quickly and efficiently.

Though the idea that a mere scent may be able to sway the course of behavior might seem too simplistic or incredible to some, the study tested exactly this hypothesis, with a positive outcome. Dividing participants between two rooms, one with a “normal” scent and one freshly spritzed with orange-scented Windex, the researchers asked participants in both rooms to engage in a number of identical activities aimed at gauging such moral behavior elements as generosity and fairness. From a model in which participants were trusted by unseen partners to fairly divide $12 to one in which participants were asked to score their interest in donating to charity, and many other modules, those in the “clean” smelling room consistently and significantly exhibited more positive behaviors.

The researchers note that keeping work areas—as well as rooms within the home—clean and pleasantly scented may go a long way toward producing desirable behavior from workers, customers, and family members, all at a minimum of cost and without the need for potential emotional fallout. The study may hint at long-understood benefits of aromatherapy, and may have great implications for the future of mental health improvement without medications.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • billy


    November 2nd, 2009 at 9:49 AM

    Living or working in a cluttered environment does make a person more irritable and prone to aggression, so this find may well be true…

  • Georgia


    November 2nd, 2009 at 9:52 AM

    Oh no! Now this means I have to clean my teenage son’s room more now than ever before!



    November 2nd, 2009 at 11:00 AM

    I agree with this study, because a cleaner and nicer environment always makes a person think with a positive and better frame of mind, often leading to better decisions and behavior.

  • Stacey.K


    November 2nd, 2009 at 3:18 PM

    Aroma therapy is for real n I have personally felt its effect in my aroma candels especially designed to be kept alongside the bathtub

  • Holly


    November 3rd, 2009 at 5:45 AM

    OMG the makers of cleaning products if they had any sense would absolutely jump on this evidence and make it a part of their next several ad campaigns. What better way to sell your products than to boast about how using them will not only make your house fresh and clean but will inspire you to be a better person too?

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