New Experiment - What is the scent of trust?

Hint: it is pretty and purple! Leiden psychologists Roberta Sellaro and Lorenza Colzato published their findings in Frontiers in Psychology

Enhancing well-being with scent

Scents have different effects on our moods and it is important to know which scent should be used to achieve a certain state of mind. Indeed some scents are recognised to emphasise arousal whereas some calming scents will help achieving a relaxed state.

And this is were it becomes even more interesting, relaxation can lead to trust. "Mutual trust is the social glue of society", says Sellaro. "Interpersonal trust is an essential element for social co-operation bargaining and negotiation."

The Experiment

To determine the effect of fragrances, the researchers exposed one group of test persons to the aroma of lavender, while a second group to the aroma of peppermint (arousal). Subsequently, the test persons played a trust game, a task that is often used to measure how much one test person trusts the other. A trustor was given 5 euros and was free to decide how much of that money he would give to a trustee in each round of the game. The trustor would then receive extra money, but only if the trustee gave him enough money in return. The money transferred to the trustee by the trustor served as an indicator of mutual trust.

Test persons gave significantly more money to the other person when they were exposed to the aroma of lavender, compared to persons who had been exposed to the fragrance of peppermint.

The implications in business

Sellaro: "Our results might have various serious implications for a broad range of situations in which interpersonal trust is an essential element. Smelling the aroma of lavender may help a seller to establish more easily a trusting negotiation to sell a car, or in a grocery store it may induce consumers to spend more money buying products."

For more details about the experience: Click Here!