According to research in the journal Psychological Science, smells associated with “clean” like citrus may make people more agreeable and generous. Working with a difficult customer or on some challenging negotiations? See what happens when there is a bowl of citrus fruit in the room. Hard to do with conference calls, although you could always send a citrus basket.
Does this mean you should panhandle next to a fruit stand? Do people that work in orange groves donate more to charities?
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.