- Blog post
Ethical business behavior smells great
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.
photo credit: –b–