They had four volunteers stand outside a bakery and four stand outside of a clothing store. The volunteers waited for shoppers to pass by and then seemingly accidentally dropped small items like tissues or gloves.
They found that 77% of the items were spontaneously picked up outside the bakery, compared to only 52% outside the clothing store. The conclusion – the presence of pleasant ambient odors positively affects altruistic behavior.
This latest study confirms another one that was done in a mall environment. Researchers found that people were more likely to help a stranger by picking up an item or providing change for a dollar when in the presence of pleasant odors like roasting coffee or baking cookies.