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Lavender Scent Boosts Trustworthiness

Update Date: Jan 13, 2015 05:27 PM EST
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The scent of lavender increases a person's trustworthiness, according to psychologists.

Lead researchers Roberta Sellaro and Lorenza Colzato from Leiden University wanted to study how the scent of lavender, already known to promote relaxation, influences mutual trust. Previous studies suggest that aromatic compounds can boost mood, cognition as well as emotional and physical wellbeing.

Researchers said the latest findings are important because trust promotes societal cooperation.

"Mutual trust is the social glue of society," Sellaro said in a news release. "Interpersonal trust is an essential element for social co-operation bargaining and negotiation."

In the study, one group of participants were exposed to the scent of lavender and another the scent of peppermint. After exposure, participants were asked to play a trust game involving money. Researchers explained that participants given the "trustor" role received five Euros and were free to decide how much of the money to give to "trustee" participants in each round of the game. The study revealed that the "trustor" would then receive extra money, but only if the "trustee" returned a certain amount of money.

The findings revealed that "trustor" participants gave significantly more money to "trustees" when exposed to the scent of lavender, compared to others who were exposed to the scent of peppermint.

"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. The smell of lavender may also be helpful in sport psychology to enhance trust and build team spirit, for example in the case of team games such as soccer and volleyball," researchers concluded.

The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

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