Proust found deep memories in the aroma of a madeleine (a small sponge cake with a distinctive shell-like shape), but the journal Psychological Science recently reported that the right scent may stimulate fairness and generosity.
In an experiment, groups of subjects were placed in two different rooms, one of which had been sprayed with a citrus-scented cleaner. In the first part of the test, subjects were given cash and asked to share some of it with an anonymous person in another room. In the citrus-scented room, participants gave away twice as much money.
For the test’s second part, participants were quizzed about their willingness to volunteer their time for community work and to donate money to charity. Again, subjects in the more aromatic room expressed more interest in volunteering, and they were three times more likely to indicate that they would make donations.
So do clean smells produce better behavior? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s one more reason to keep the air lemony fresh.