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5 Smells That Make You Kinder, Happier, Nicer

5 Smells That Make You Kinder, Happier, Nicer

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, brought back by popular demand. It was originally published on November 9, 2012. Enjoy!

Cinnabon knows what it’s doing. The smell of baking bread can make us kinder, says a study from Journal of Social Psychology by scientists from the University of Southern Brittany in France.

Wanting to test the notion that smells can influence behavior, the scientists had eight young men and women stand outside either a bakery or a clothing store, says the Independent. The participants were instructed to pretend to be searching for something in their bags and then drop an object (a glove, a handkerchief) while walking in front of a stranger.

People stopped to pick up the object about 77 percent of the time in front of the bakery, versus 52 percent of the time outside the clothing store, according to the researchers who observed the proceedings from some 60 feet away.

Eight participants is a small number but the scientists did repeat the experiment some 400 times, notes the Daily Mail. From their observations, they state that

“Our results show that, in general, spontaneous help is offered more in areas where pleasant ambient smells are spread.”

“This experiment confirms the role of ambient food odours on altruism.”

One wonders at possible practical applications of this study. Could the answer to us all getting along, dealing with anger management, turning the other cheek for each other and so forth — to nothing other than world peace! — be to waft the scent of bread baking around?

While contemplating such, here are four more smells that have been found to lift up our spirits.



Researchers from Wheeling Jesuit University found that the smell of peppermint boosted both mood and motivation in competitive athletes by making them run faster, do more push-ups and squeeze a hand grip harder.


Spice Apple

Best Apples for Baking

The smell of American spice apple has been found to help reduce blood pressure.†Perhaps that’s why a cup of warm apple cider seems so inviting, not to mention the smell of an apple pie baking?



Lavender hill mob

No wonder some refer to this smell as nature’s own “chill-out oil.” Lavender scent has been found to help reduce stress and relieve pain (possibly).



Coffee Beans

Or more precisely, roasted coffee beans: a†South Korean study found that this aroma reduces stress in rats. Scientists found that lab rats (who certainly have reason to be stressed) had lower stress levels after smelling roasted coffee beans.

As a serious coffee drinker, I would agree with this. But one has to wonder if not all smells are created equal for all people. My husband does not drink any coffee and is no big fan of the smell — but then, in some twenty years of daily contact with coffee’s aroma, he has never once complained.


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Read more: , , , , , ,

Photos: bread: Thinkstock; peppermint: Sir_Iwan; apples:; lavender: Billy Reed: coffee beans: Peg Waggener.

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4:30AM PST on Jan 16, 2015

Thank you

9:27AM PST on Jan 15, 2015

Thank you

4:07PM PDT on Mar 30, 2014

If only I could bake every day!

1:31AM PST on Feb 22, 2014

Thank you!!

2:08AM PST on Feb 15, 2014

Thank you

3:17AM PST on Feb 9, 2014

Thank you

12:53PM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Everyone of these is perfect for my home and I use them all. They are great!

12:04AM PST on Feb 4, 2014

Grazie Kristina :)

11:10PM PST on Feb 3, 2014

I love the smell of freshly baked bread And CAKE :)

1:37PM PST on Feb 1, 2014

I don't like lavender smell but I love all the others.thanks for sharing

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