How Sense of Smell and Common Scents Can Affect Common Courtesies

File this under "Nasal Sway":
Can one manipulate good behavior just by the scent of the room? It turns out you can, according to an assistant professor at Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management! 

According to a 2009 TIME Magazine sidebar article, "Call It Nasal Sway", an experiment was conducted to test people's propensity toward charity, ethical behavior and good manners by using common household scents. Ninety-nine participants were assigned to either a Windex-scented room or a neutral-smelling room and given a list of tasks to complete. Included in the list was a request for volunteers and donations for "Habitat for Humanity".
Results revealed that people in the Windex scented room (citrus scented Windex to be exact) were more likely to give money and help others than those in the room that was not scented with Windex.  According to co-author and social psychologist Adam Galinsky, from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, "Economists and even psychologists haven't been paying much attention to the fact that small changes in our environment can have dramatic effects on behavior. We under emphasize these subtle environmental cues," he says.

Researchers on morality and scientists agree that people do strongly associate physical cleanliness with "purity of conscience". It is the thought at the heart of old sayings like "cleanliness is next to godliness" and "as evidenced by the widespread use of cleansing ceremonies to wash away sins in various religions around the world".

Arab men displaying traditional form of greeting.

Another study, published in a 2008 "Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin" showed that people are more critical and judgmental about certain moral issues when exposed to the vapors of a commercially available, "fart" (their term, not mine) scented spray. I'll stick with the Windex, thank you.


  1. So fascinating! Who knew? I guess the nose knew?! Maybe this is why when we smell scents from childhood, memories flow through our minds and we are take back to those days. We smile. We feel good. I guess Windex does the same thing, but we know things are clean and not to muss them up. (Furniture polish would probably do it for me, as I always polished the furniture for my mum)


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