Or at least a good way to get strangers to trust each other. ScienceDaily is reporting a new study, "The Smell of Virtue" which finds that subjects become more generous in standard trust games when a room has been spritzed with Windex. No, really. Here's the summary:
The first experiment evaluated fairness.
As a test of whether clean scents would enhance reciprocity, participants played a classic "trust game." Subjects received $12 of real money (allegedly sent by an anonymous partner in another room). They had to decide how much of it to either keep or return to their partners who had trusted them to divide it fairly. Subjects in clean-scented rooms were less likely to exploit the trust of their partners, returning a significantly higher share of the money.
- The average amount of cash given back by the people in the "normal" room was $2.81. But the people in the clean-scented room gave back an average of $5.33.
The second experiment evaluated whether clean scents would encourage charitable behavior.
Subjects indicated their interest in volunteering with a campus organization for a Habitat for Humanity service project and their interest in donating funds to the cause.
- Participants surveyed in a Windex-ed room were significantly more interested in volunteering (4.21 on a 7-point scale) than those in a normal room (3.29).
- 22 percent of Windex-ed room participants said they'd like to donate money, compared to only 6 percent of those in a normal room.
Whole ScienceDaily recap here.