Apparently the smell of a citrus smelling cleaning product called Windex is enough to get you digging deeper for charity as well as make you much more altruistic when sharing a $12 windfall with your friends!
According to Katie Liljenquist, assistant professor of organisational leadership at Brigham Young University Marriott School of Management said:
"This is a very simple, unobtrusive way to promote ethical behaviour. The data tells us a compelling story about how much we rely upon cleanliness cues to make a wide range of judgments about others."
The study due to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science but reported widely in the press this week, is entitled "The Smell of Virtue". Participants carried out several tasks – the only difference being that some worked in unscented rooms, while others worked in rooms freshly sprayed with lemon-scented cleaner.
One of the co-authors of the study, Professor Galinsky of the Kellogg School claims that, "Basically, our study shows that morality and cleanliness can go hand-in-hand. Researchers have known for years that scents play an active role in reviving positive or negative experiences. Now, our research can offer more insight into the links.
Does it really?
This kind of research annoys me. Here are just some of the questions it raises:
- Why was only once fragrance, Windex, tested? (Who sponsored the research I wonder?)
- If nice fragrances invoke positive behaviour, do nasty fragrances invoke negative behaviour?
- Who defines nice and nasty?
- There is no investigation or questioning of the claimed link between sensory perception and behaviour. Does such a link exist? That's the real question.
Take a look at Avery Gilbert's blog for an in-depth critique http://firstnerve.com/2009/10/smell-of-virtue-drive-by-research.html
Sound bite research like this, with extrapolated claims, annoys me because it tends to undermine the really valuable research being carried out by more rigourous sensory scientist who are seeking to understand the subtle influences of senory perception on our subconscious emotions and associations.
This is a huge subject and intuitively I believe in the power of the senses to influence our perception of many things, including brands - the subject matter of this blog - but I do not believe the smell of Windex or any other cleaning product for that matter, taken out of context, has the ability to influence, positively or negatively, our innate human values of altruism of virtue.
If I'm wrong, be careful not to overpay the window cleaner next time they are round!