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 GoodTherapy.org.
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