Ethical business behavior smells great

by on April 26, 2010 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Cafe

Maybe Aunt Bessie was right that cleanliness is next to godliness.

A recent study found that people behave more ethically and altruistically in a clean environment – specifically, one that smells clean.

The researchers, from a Canadian and two U.S. graduate business schools, looked at two situations: one a “trust game” involving the fair division of money and the other a solicitation to donate to a charity.

With ethical business behavior, clean is good
One set of “guinea pigs” carried out these activities in an office that had been sprayed with “clean-smelling” citrus-scented window cleaner; the others were in non-scented room.

The result? Participants in the “clean” office were significantly more ethical in the game and more generous in their donations.

“In a clean environment, subtle cues … subconsciously activate the moral clause,” study author Katie Liljenquist concludes.

Is citrus scent an ethical panacea? Maybe not. But most would agree that in business, clean is good.

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photo credit: –b–

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