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People More Likely to Cooperate With Smelly Individuals

Update Date: Dec 24, 2013 07:15 PM EST
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Want your boss to be nicer to you? Stop wearing deodorant.

New research reveals that smelly individuals receive more compassion and cooperation because others feel sorry for them.

"Scents are omnipresent in our daily world and they are of great importance as represented by the use of perfumes or fragrances in the work environment," said lead author Jeroen Camps and colleagues, from the university KU Leuven in Belgium, according to Daily Mail.

"Even though it has been argued that bad scents invoke negative judgments, we argued and demonstrated that a bad body odor elicits feelings of pity in others and increases prosocial behavior," he added.

Bad smells include smelly feet, bad breath, armpit sweat and other unpleasant body odors.

Researchers conducted three experiments to see if bad odors evoke feelings of compassion and sympathy.

In the first experiment participants were asked to smell T-shirts that had been sprayed with human sweat, beer and other odors. Participants were asked to imagine that the shirt belonged to someone they worked with. Afterwards, participants were asked how they felt about the person.

The findings revealed that participants felt significantly more pity after sniffing a bad-smelling T-shirt.

In the second experiment, participants were first asked to complete a maze alone. Afterwards, they were asked to complete another maze while sitting next to someone wearing either a neutral or bad smelling T-shirt. Later, they were moved to a third room and asked to divide 11 credits between themselves and the other person wearing the T-shirt. People with more credits were more likely to win free movie tickets.

The findings revealed that participants who sat next to people with smelly T-shirts donated more credits to the other person than those who sat next to those wearing neutral-smelling T-shirts.

Researchers said that findings "showed that there are situations in which a person's unpleasant body odor increases others' helping behaviors toward this person".

The third experiment revealed that participants were more generous to individuals who smelled if they were not responsible for their body odor. However, participants were less generous to people who were responsible for their body odor.

Researchers note that previous studies revealed that "people seem to give the bad smelling person the benefit of the doubt," if such information is not available.

The findings are published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

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