The aroma of freshly-baked bread has more than just the power to make your mouth water. According to a new study, it can also make you a kinder person.
According to the Daily Mail, researchers at the University of Southern Brittany in France found that shoppers were more likely to alert a random passerby that they had dropped a belonging if, at the time, they were also passing a bakery giving off the sweet scent of baking bread.
The findings, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, suggest that certain smells can trigger a more positive mood, which leads to a greater degree of altruism in strangers.
While other studies have connected pleasant smells to better moods in the past, the new study sought to make a concrete tie between aromas and good deeds.
The researchers recruited eight young men and women to volunteer to stand outside either a bakery or a clothing boutique, reports Zee News India.
The volunteers then pretended to be looking for something in their bags as they stepped in front of a passing shopper. When they walked a few feet in front of the shopper, the participants dropped a glove, handkerchief or packet of tissues, while two researchers observed from about 60 ft. away.
According to the Independent, the experiments -- which were repeated about 400 times -- found that when the volunteers dropped the items outside the bakery, 77 percent of strangers stopped to help recover the lost item and hand it back to the owner.
Outside the clothing store, however, only 52 percent of strangers helped.
The Independent quoted one researcher from the study who said that the evidence “shows that, in general, spontaneous help is offered more in areas where pleasant ambient smells are spread. This experiment confirms the role of ambient food odors on altruism.”
The researchers also assumed that other smells widely regarded as pleasant would also trigger similarly benevolent behavior from strangers.