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Clean Smells Promote Ethical Behavior

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the criminals-just-need-a-bath dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 250

A recent study is suggesting that moral behavior may be encouraged with nothing more than clean smells. The Brigham Young University professor found a "dramatic improvement in ethical behavior with just a few spritzes of citrus-scented Windex." "The researchers see implications for workplaces, retail stores and other organizations that have relied on traditional surveillance and security measures to enforce rules. Perhaps the findings could be applied at home, too, Liljenquist said with a smile. 'Could be that getting our kids to clean up their rooms might help them clean up their acts, too.' The study titled "The Smell of Virtue" was unusually simple and conclusive. Participants engaged in several tasks, the only difference being that some worked in unscented rooms, while others worked in rooms freshly spritzed with Windex."

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How small is it? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29876785)

Rob Malda's penis is so small that a tootsie roll is both longer and wider than his own penis.

Re:How small is it? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877191)

Rob Malda's penis is so small that a tootsie roll is both longer and wider than his own penis.

Kathleen, how many times do I have to keep telling you to stop trolling?

Clean smells? Windex? (4, Funny)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877227)

Let's get this straight. Windex typically reeks of ammonia. And so do public elevators where winos have urinated.
 
A coincidence? A paradox? Or, are the guys at Brigham Young sniffing gold spraypaint trying to come up with new ideas? Hmmmmm...?

MOD PARENT INFORMATIVE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877241)

This is a really good post!

MOD THIS POST INFORMATIVE (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877519)

So is this post!

/^v^|\/^V:^:_ CALL 911! TrisexualPuppy is on FIRE! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877575)

The

/^v^|\/^V:^:_

is supposed to look like fire.

Mod Parent Up

Re:Clean smells? Windex? (3, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877971)

Let's get this straight. Windex typically reeks of ammonia. And so do public elevators where winos have urinated.

A coincidence? A paradox? Or, are the guys at Brigham Young sniffing gold spraypaint trying to come up with new ideas? Hmmmmm...?

As bad as the rigor of this study seems to be, your counter-point doesn't actually defeat what it says. Windex, urine, and urine covered up by Windex don't all smell the same, and elevators that are likely to be soiled are very different social settings from rooms at a graduate research center. The social triggers differ with all of these things.

The results of the study don't particularly surprise me. Think of how people act in clean v. dirty bathrooms or how vandalism that isn't cleaned up invites further vandalism. I'm just worried that idiots will think that ALL you need is the *smell* of Windex and not *actual* efforts at cleaning up a cesspit. Or that we'll be assaulted with overbearing smells of cleaning products at banks and stores (which would eventually wear away the mental association and make it *doubly* futile).

Smells like Mom is angry again. (5, Funny)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 4 years ago | (#29876807)

You know she only cleans this thoroughly when she's angry, so we'd damn well better behave until this blows over.

Re:Smells like Mom is angry again. (0, Offtopic)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29876993)

And if you go to Brigham Young, the problem is a lot worse -- you've got several mothers to worry about.

Re:Smells like Mom is angry again. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877457)

Troll? More like truth. Looks like there are a lotta fucking worthless mormons on Slashdot. Ever notice how mormons always have that blank, brainwashed stare in their vacant eyes?

Fish smells like yo mama is horny again. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877043)

You know she only cleans this thoroughly when she's angry, so we'd damn well better behave until this blows over.

Your mom knew how to blow ME over. I swear, she can suck a basketball through a garden hose. The woman is very talented.

Why do niggers hate aspirin? It's white, it works, and they really hate having to pick the cotton out of the bottle.
How was copper wiring invented? Two jews fighting over a penny.
Ever heard of the Mexican auto races? Yeah, first one to get the car started wins.
How come there's no Mexican Olympics? All the spics who can run, swim, and jump are already in the USA.
Why do niggers make such great gynecologists? They are used to curly hair, big lips, and bad breath.
How do you make a nigger self-destruct? Tell him that basketball was invented by a white man.
What's long, black, and stinky? The welfare line.
Yo mama so stupid, she threw a rock at the ground. And missed.
What do you call a bunch of niggers hangin around a barn? Antique farm equipment.
What was the only thing missing from the Million Man March? Three miles of chain and an auctioneer.

You're too chickenshit to admit it, but you laughed.

Re:Fish smells like yo mama is horny again. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877251)

I did laugh.

Re:Fish smells like yo mama is horny again. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877293)

I take it you are all out of Windex?

This is BS (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29876837)

I call bs...whenever an attractive woman walks by smelling like she just stepped out of the shower I have only immoral thoughts.

Re:This is BS (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877083)

But how do you behave? Lewd comments and gestures?

Re:This is BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877327)

But how do you behave? Lewd comments and gestures?

Immorally moral?

RTFA! (1, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877095)

You just need to spritz her with some Windex and all immoral thoughts will disappear.

Re:This is BS (2, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877315)

I call bs...whenever an attractive woman walks by smelling like she just stepped out of the shower I have only immoral thoughts.

The summary is talking about ethics. They said nothing about moral relativity. :)

Re:This is BS (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877849)

"I call bs...whenever an attractive woman walks by smelling like she just stepped out of the shower I have only immoral thoughts."

Funny - when an attractive woman walks by who smells like she just came from getting laid, my thoughts are...more immoral.

But... (1, Funny)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 4 years ago | (#29876861)

But what if the task I'm assigned to do is to rob a bank? Does the spritz of Windex make my action ethical?

Re:But... (2, Funny)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877659)

If your job is a bank robber, sure.

Re:But... (5, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#29878015)

It depends on which of the ethical schools you're subscribing to.

Mill's utilitarianism model states that the best choice is the one that provides the most benefit for the most people. In terms of bank robbery, robbing a bank is highly ethical. The robber gets some money, that money gets spent, and a large trickle-down impacts the local economy. The bank is insured so they don't lose any money. The customers and tellers get some excitement and a story to tell for years. "Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I was in a bank robbery?"

Kant's formal duty-based ethics means that you have to follow courses of action that are acceptable as universal principles for everyone to follow. Further, it is your INTENTION to follow the mores rather than your actions. Good will is the desire and intention to do one's duty. If your duty is to rob a bank, then robbing a bank is highly ethical. If they didn't expect you to rob it, they wouldn't spend all that time and money on robbery countermeasures.

Locke's rights-based ethics gives you rights based solely by your existence. The maximum possible liberty and happiness are fundamental; all other rights flow out of these basic ones. You are restricting the rights of the robbed in the bank, but as long as you are not taking their personal possessions (with the temporary exception of cell phones) you aren't treading on their rights significantly.

Finally, Aristotle's virtue ethics states that the goodness of an act or object depends on its function. A "good" knife cuts well; a "good" chair is comfy. So, a "good" bank robber is one that robs banks.

Reference:
Andrews, Gordon. Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience: Practice and Ethics. Thomson Nelson, 2005. (pp. 126 - 130)

(It didn't seem right to not specify a source on this one.)

this is why (3, Funny)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#29876863)

I never trusted the poop smith.

Re:this is why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877847)

I remember this one time when we were all standing around minding our own business. Then somebody farted. A few awkward glances later and it suddenly turned into a full-on riot.

Happiness (5, Insightful)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 4 years ago | (#29876865)

I don't know about any of you, but being in a smelly, disgusting store makes me unhappy.

Re:Happiness (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877551)

It's a stupid study, this is something that humans have associated, best example is the hospital smell, whenever you feel that smell, you think about the hospital and everything that it meant for you, a loved one that died there, an operation a long time ago, etc. Some will associate that "clean smell" with an oppressive home, that will most likely make them hate the place, some people are natural slobs, even though their families are not, ever wonder why? it's a stupid study made for marketing purposes. Should I understand that Slashdot is now in the "scyence of marketing"? wtf?

Re:Happiness, I agree... (1)

sourICE (1480471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877957)

I don't know about any of you, but being in a smelly, disgusting store makes me unhappy.

I agree and I base my entire mood on the smells of the locations I have been to during my day.

For instance, if I go into a gas station bathroom during my day I am liable to become completely enraged or possibly even suicidal at the thought of the acts previously taken in order to create such smells.

Depending upon how bad the smells were, I may even kidnap a child or go on a shooting rampage because of them.

On the other hand if I journey to a flower shop and take in the 'wonderful' scents of flowers and the unneeded perfumes I am likely to smell emanating from the woman behind the counter I will go even crazier due to my allergies and form some sort of murderous coalition or cult.

As you can clearly see, this proves smells have a great effect on emotions and the actions taken because of them.

Dirty D! (1)

Baby Duck (176251) | more than 4 years ago | (#29876875)

"I'm Dirty D, damnit! I just need to be diiiirty!"

I love the smell... (5, Funny)

chickenarise (1597941) | more than 4 years ago | (#29876881)

I love the smell of Windex in the morning... The smell, you know that fresh smell... Smells like, virtue.

Re:I love the smell... (4, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877185)

I love the smell of Windex in the morning... The smell, you know that fresh smell... Smells like, virtue.

Charlie don't clean windows.

glamour shots? (0, Offtopic)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#29876883)

What's with the modeling/glamour shots photo of the professor on the article?

Re:glamour shots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877047)

I bet you wouldn't say the same thing if the professor was a man.

It's just a freaking shot of the profesor "cleaning", as in "clean smell"... you know like the article says.

By the way is good and shot too.

Re:glamour shots? (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877783)

Looks like she is standing behind a windows covered in hot grits.

Crappy experiment (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29876893)

It's crappy experiments like this that give pseudo-science a bad name.

There are so many confounding and uncontrolled variables that the results are meaningless.

Did they repeat the experiment with the clean and dirty rooms swapped?

Were the subjects and experiment runners randomized? How many subjects?

Were the subjects sequestered or could they have smelled the Windex while waiting to participate?

Were there any other differences between the test rooms?

It's crappy experiments like this that give pseudo-science a bad name.

Re:Crappy experiment (1)

jbus07 (1659917) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877151)

The rooms could have smelled like booze and cigarettes - I don't think that would have had a significant amount of influence on the monetary splits. Consumer behavior at retailers has been proven to be influenced by certain smells, but decision making and morality? Um, no.

Re:Crappy experiment (1)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877747)

The rooms could have smelled like booze and cigarettes

Not at Brigham Young they couldn't! No booze and no 'baccey for the Latter-Day Saints.

Re:Crappy experiment (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877169)

Not neccessarily. If science is the testing of hypotheses through carefully conducted and controlled experiments, you must acknowledge that those hypotheses must come from somewhere - and why shouldn't that be quick and dirty experiments? I'd rule out "just doing it right the first time" - because the conclusion in this case seems so surprising that nobody would ever have deemed it important enough to spend a whole controlled study on.

Of course, like the Slashdot poll, "if you use this result for anything important, you're insane". But some more trials might be in order.

Re:Crappy experiment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877545)

It's crappy experiments like this that give pseudo-science a bad name.

Not only did you type that fantastically stupid sentence without thinking about what it meant, you did it twice.

And no, you weren't joking, being ironic, or saying that it's so bad that even "regular" pseudo-science looks bad in comparison. You really meant the literal interpretation of what you said.

Re:Crappy experiment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29878045)

It's not the first time that my dry humor has eluded someone.

Re:Crappy experiment (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877571)

I suspect that the reason is rather that unclean smells triggers the more competitive behavior of humans because it can be an indication of lack of food or other resources, which in turn means that the strongest and most resourceful can be the one that is gaining the most.

A clean smell can instead tell the subconscious mind that there is sufficient resources available.

So this may be a good reason to actually make sure that public areas are clean.

Re:Crappy experiment (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877803)

That conclusion isn't supported by the data. It is however interesting to note their earlier study about cleanliness, specifically that people who commit what the person considers a moral transgression they seek to cleanse their physical body. Something being clean seems to certainly have some sort of unconscious link if you take both of those studies into account. Interesting stuff.

Makes sense (5, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#29876901)

If a place smells like a moose just died in it, especially if its also visibly dirty, then I just sort of get the impression that it doesn't actually matter what I do in there. On the other hand, when a place is spotless, smells lemony fresh and everything appears in order then I'm not going to be the one to put my feet on the coffee table, no matter how tempting it might be. Smell ties into taste and is one of the more powerful senses we have, so it makes sense that it would play a large part in determining our impression of what is or isn't acceptable in a given location, every bit as much as it tells us what foods seem OK to eat.

Re:Makes sense (2, Interesting)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877023)

Unfortunately the actual effect this is going to have is that every store that can get away with it will now treat air fresheners like fratboys treat axe.

Re:Makes sense (3, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877175)

Unfortunately the actual effect this is going to have is that every store that can get away with it will now treat air fresheners like fratboys treat axe.

Which will probably end up having an opposite effect. I know that whenever I smell highly excessive air freshener, or a highly excessive amount of perfume/cologne/etc on a person, I sometimes wonder what it is that they're trying so hard to cover up. Particularly that extremely potent lotion or perfume that some of the women at the office would use; seems like a few drops of that stuff will cover a square mile.

A small, tasteful amount is a different story, of course.

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877303)

Unfortunately the actual effect this is going to have is that every store that can get away with it will now treat air fresheners like fratboys treat axe.

Haha! Speaking of which. I used to use Axe, but then I grew a sense of smell, two balls and some dignity.

Re:Makes sense (2, Insightful)

Rary (566291) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877113)

If a place smells like a moose just died in it, especially if its also visibly dirty, then I just sort of get the impression that it doesn't actually matter what I do in there. On the other hand, when a place is spotless, smells lemony fresh and everything appears in order then I'm not going to be the one to put my feet on the coffee table, no matter how tempting it might be. Smell ties into taste and is one of the more powerful senses we have, so it makes sense that it would play a large part in determining our impression of what is or isn't acceptable in a given location, every bit as much as it tells us what foods seem OK to eat.

But the interesting part about this study is that it wasn't measuring behaviour that would typically be linked to cleanliness (ie. putting your feet on the coffee table). It was looking into behaviour that should be consistent regardless what room you're in.

For example, people sitting in the "clean" room were more willing to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. They were also more willing to donate money to the cause.

Also interesting is that participants didn't actually consciously notice the sent in the room.

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877553)

So, first impressions count, then?

Seriously, if your first impression (and smell is one of the first impressions you get) is positive, then you are likely to provide positive interaction.

If your first impression is negative, you are more likely to be negative.

This isn't anything that wasn't previously known.

Self-Godwin! I bet if the same test were done in a room sporting a picture of Hitler vs. a picture of flowers, we'd find similar reactions.

Re:Makes sense (3, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877129)

If a place smells like a moose just died in it, especially if its also visibly dirty, then I just sort of get the impression that it doesn't actually matter what I do in there. On the other hand, when a place is spotless, smells lemony fresh and everything appears in order then I'm not going to be the one to put my feet on the coffee table, no matter how tempting it might be. Smell ties into taste and is one of the more powerful senses we have, so it makes sense that it would play a large part in determining our impression of what is or isn't acceptable in a given location, every bit as much as it tells us what foods seem OK to eat.

You certainly do have a point, though I question the merits of a study like this one. If scent made such a noticable difference, then you can safely say that these folks were not terribly committed to doing the Right Thing. They needed an external motivation. That's hardly as good as doing the best you can, all the time, because you seriously believe in and want to adhere to sound, timeless principles that have a solid ethical or moral foundation.

For that reason, I take this to be further evidence that most people operate on a sort of auto-pilot.

Re:Makes sense (5, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877329)

You certainly do have a point, though I question the merits of a study like this one. If scent made such a noticable difference, then you can safely say that these folks were not terribly committed to doing the Right Thing. They needed an external motivation. That's hardly as good as doing the best you can, all the time, because you seriously believe in and want to adhere to sound, timeless principles that have a solid ethical or moral foundation.

So, what, you're going to assume the study is invalid and/or useless because it doesn't fit with your naively rosy view of human behaviour? Well, no offense, but tough shit.

For that reason, I take this to be further evidence that most people operate on a sort of auto-pilot.

And I take it as further evidence that humans are, despite our fancy intellect, often little more than opportunistic animals. And personally, I'd rather we just admit that fact and use it as the starting point for improving ourselves, rather than living with the delusion that we're somehow inherently noble creatures. 'course, we should already realize this... if the Milgram experiment taught us anything, it's that human morals are things easily set aside given the right circumstances.

Re:Makes sense (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877509)

Isn't it amazing the venom that comes out of people when you make the simplest of observations? Yours is milder than most.

So, what, you're going to assume the study is invalid and/or useless because it doesn't fit with your naively rosy view of human behaviour? Well, no offense, but tough shit.

I said that most people aren't terribly committed to doing good and that they operate on a sort of auto-pilot, meaning they are not thinking beings who perform deliberate action, though potentially they could be. This isn't so rosy. In fact it's rather disappointing.

And I take it as further evidence that humans are, despite our fancy intellect, often little more than opportunistic animals. And personally, I'd rather we just admit that fact and use it as the starting point for improving ourselves, rather than living with the delusion that we're somehow inherently noble creatures. 'course, we should already realize this... if the Milgram experiment taught us anything, it's that human morals are things easily set aside given the right circumstances.

Nothing I said disagrees with this. In fact, I proposed the "auto-pilot" as an explanation for it. It happens to be an explanation that, if true, means that this is not set in stone, that people are not actually forced to be this way. For that reason, I view it as a "default" setting -- the way things are if the person doesn't consciously work to change them.

Is that what bothers you so? Because it implies that people bear some personal responsibility for whether or not they are trying to become better (by that I mean more ethical) people? I suppose that's one way to view it. Another way to view it is that if you really are responsible for who you are and what you do, then this is proof positive that it is within your power to change those things for the better. This is excellent news, in fact it is a message of hope.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877701)

Is that what bothers you so?

No. What bothers me is this exact phrase:

You certainly do have a point, though I question the merits of a study like this one.

You don't question it based on the fact that it might have been set up wrong. Or that they interpreted the results correctly. You don't attack the science based on facts and reason. No. You decide the study is without merit because, apparently, it doesn't fit with your worldview. That's irrational. It's also an excellent example of one of the true ills of society today: The unwillingness of people to see the world for what it is, instead preferring to filter and bend fact to fit their own ideas of how the world actually works.

Re:Makes sense (1, Insightful)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877351)

For that reason, I take this to be further evidence that most people operate on a sort of auto-pilot.

It is well-known that people aren't particularly rational and most things we do are not really conscious decisions.

Re:Makes sense (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877935)

"If scent made such a noticable difference, then you can safely say that these folks were not terribly committed to doing the Right Thing. They needed an external motivation. That's hardly as good as doing the best you can, all the time, because you seriously believe in and want to adhere to sound, timeless principles that have a solid ethical or moral foundation. "

That sounds like the distinction between Perfect and Imperfect Contrition in the Catholic Catechism. Perfect Contrition is when you are repentant of your sins because you love God and are sorry you have broken His agreement with you. Imperfect Contrition is when you are repentant because you don't want to go to Hell.

Guess what - either gets you into Heaven. Likewise, I'm not sure anyone should care WHY someone does the right thing, as long as they do it.

Re:Makes sense (1, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877153)

I don't think so. There's a lot of harsh chemistry [katu.com] in many air fresheners that many people don't like. I'd rather smell some stray earth than some sterile hodgepodge of toxic chemicals that reminds me of the overbearing preparation of cheap hotel rooms frequented by prostitutes.

I can't even stand those little air fresheners people put in cars. Why would anybody want their car to smell cheap, like oranges or other food? (Note: it's usually the fat chicks who like their houses and cars smelling like peaches or vanilla anyway)

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877283)

From 2004-7, I was the sysadmin for a high school, and I noticed this effect with computer labs.

Lab A was filled with recent, fast computers [P4/2.8 with 512 MB RAM]. The computers were very fast and peppy...logging in took 30 seconds max, and applications started quickly. The computer lab was in a room with properly-working climate control and plenty of space for all the computers. It was originally 30, and I knocked it down to 29 to make it just a bit more spacious.

Lab B was filled with Celeron 1.2s with 128 MB of RAM. They were running XP when I showed up, and I switched them to 2000 to help with speed. Even with only Windows 2000, they ran like molasses in Antarctica. Logging into Windows would take minutes, launching a browser another few minutes...you get the picture. The lab was crammed into a windowless storage room without nearly enough climate control--on winter days, when the water chiller was shut off, the lab heated up to 80+F and became unbearable. Originally 30 stations when I showed up, I whittled it down to 24--they took up less space, 6 of them had their motherboards go kaput, and class-size analysis showed 24 seats adequate for most of the classes in the school. The only reason that damn lab existed was because the school foundation matched funding for a lab in 1997...

Lab A was treated with respect. When I went in there at the end of the school day, I had only to close the windows and blinds. Everything was kept quite orderly.

Lab B...not so much. It looked almost like a riot happened in there, with encrusted Jolly Ranchers stuck to computers, students snapping the CD trays off while impatiently waiting for Web pages to load, and students removing balls from mice. Even teachers treated that lab like crap.

Show them respect with working equipment, and they're more likely to respect it.

Ammonia, Detergents or Scents? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29876961)

Which is it that did it? This appears to measure the effect of Windex, not scents. Great publicity for Windex though. I'm appalled at what passes for science these days. The public knows no better.

Re:Ammonia, Detergents or Scents? (2, Insightful)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877205)

The public knows no better.

Actually, they really don't. But at least they don't care, either.

Re:Ammonia, Detergents or Scents? (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877613)

No kidding, if you are testing the theory of "good smelling" one needed use Windex for every test group.

You could have nothing, nothing, nothing, windex, rose water, fresh baked cookie smell, etc. Also, you could do some foul smell runs to see if they are even worse than nothing...

Re:Ammonia, Detergents or Scents? (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877217)

Makes you wonder who sponsored the experiment, eh?

This moment in science sponsored by the good folks at Windex.

If that is the case... (1)

Androclese (627848) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877013)

...I wonder what the Capitol Building must smell like?

Re:If that is the case... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877045)

Or the Goldman Sachs offices?

Re:If that is the case... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877111)

A morgue.

Re:If that is the case... (2, Interesting)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877225)

I was going to ask what Washington must smell like. Perhaps we should send the lawmakers each an air freshener.

Re:If that is the case... (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29878019)

Originally, it smelled like a swamp because, well, it was. After they drained it, built buildings, and filled it with politicians and government appointees - it still smells like a swamp.

Re:If that is the case... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877343)

It smells like kosher food, if you know what I mean.

junk science (4, Insightful)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877037)

There's no link to the original study, but it was clear from the article that there was no control group. They had a scented room vs. an unscented room, when what they should have had was a "pleasantly" scented room vs. an "unpleasantly" scented room with a third, unscented room as the control. Then they should have done some feedback questionnaires at the conclusion, in which they could have buried a question or two regarding the participant's scent preferences to see how well the participants' evaluation of the smell of the rooms lined-up with the premise of the study.

This study was actually just a subset of the premise that happy people are more likely to be grateful and donate their time and/or money than unhappy people, and that environmental factors can influence a person's relative happiness. And a demonstration that an attractive woman can get money and resources from a major university to run a useless study.

Re:junk science (2, Informative)

Imrik (148191) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877145)

So in order to have a control group you have to have two non-control groups? You didn't add a control group to their study, you added a non-control group.

Re:junk science (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877373)

No, their premise was "scent vs. nothing", with the presumption that the orange scent was something that everyone would find pleasant. The actual statefulness of smell for people is pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral (or nothing); and that's what the study should have covered in order to make any meaningful conclusion on smell vs. happiness driven ethics. There's no way to derive from their study results what effect an unpleasant smell would have on behavior. It may well be that it's the perception of smell aside from the norm that drives the ethical behavior, not the relative pleasantness of the smell at all.

Essentially, they only tested for the single side of the equation that supported their pre-study bias, which make their post-study conclusions rather worthless.

Re:junk science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877559)

So... you can't prove that kitchen knives can be used to kill someone until you've also tested hunting knives under your model of causality? Brilliant, you are an intellectual giant.

Re:junk science (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877597)

Not worthless.

Null hypothesis: smell makes no difference.
Hypothesis: smell makes a difference.

There is also no way to derive whether the smell of grilled hamburgers would have made more difference than the orange scent. That doesn't make the results worthless. It just means that the study doesn't answer every question, everyone could possibly ask.

Re:junk science (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877707)

Hypothesis: smell makes a difference.

The article specifically states "clean smell", and does so in a way that implies the study does too. Hence the bias.

Re:junk science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877645)

So you are saying they lumped the 'this room smells bad' and 'this room smells good' in together, STILL got positive results, and you say this is junk science?

I agree, further studies should be done, but definitely not by you.

Re:junk science (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877811)

No. I'm saying they didn't do the "this room smells bad" part at all. And because the outcome of that test can't be anticipated we know that one, they only got part of the potential answer; and two, because there's the possibility that the "this room smells bad" test may produce even better results, that both their premise and conclusions are biased.

Re:junk science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877391)

You're wrong. I design experiments for a living. A control group is roughly defined as "A sample in which a factor whose effect is being estimated is absent or is held constant, in order to provide a comparison." We are estimating the effect of clean smelling room vs. unscented room on ethical behavior. This is a control group, and you are the charlatan. :)

Re:junk science (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877601)

Read my reply above, then go read Dr. Richard Feynman's speech entitled "CARGO CULT SCIENCE" [lhup.edu] and then tell me if you still think there didn't need to be a third group. Because the point isn't what they wanted to test, the point is they weren't testing all the relevant aspects of the situation in order to have a meaningful conclusion.

Re:junk science (5, Informative)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877513)

There's no link to the original study, but it was clear from the article that there was no control group. They had a scented room vs. an unscented room, when what they should have had was a "pleasantly" scented room vs. an "unpleasantly" scented room with a third, unscented room as the control. Then they should have done some feedback questionnaires at the conclusion, in which they could have buried a question or two regarding the participant's scent preferences to see how well the participants' evaluation of the smell of the rooms lined-up with the premise of the study.

This study was actually just a subset of the premise that happy people are more likely to be grateful and donate their time and/or money than unhappy people, and that environmental factors can influence a person's relative happiness. And a demonstration that an attractive woman can get money and resources from a major university to run a useless study.

So you're supposing that the mere scenting of a room, with any scent whatsoever, will increase the chance of ethical behavior? Interesting. Sounds like you need to do a follow-on study, rather than bash the first one without having read the original manuscript. According to the article, they *did* have a feedback questionnaire, and the participants did not notice the scent. More importantly, however, we do not know from the article whether this was a double blind study. The devil is in the details for behavioral studies like this, and an easy way to eliminate many uncontrolled variables is to make it double blind.

Finally, it is rather presumptuous to state that BYU funded the research, especially given the list of three total collaborators come from three different universities. Also, I've personally filled out scores of grant applications from my local institution, private foundations, and national agencies. None of them required or even requested a photograph. I'm therefore highly dubious about your last conclusion.

Re:junk science (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877655)

I'm therefore highly dubious about your last conclusion.

Does it help to point out that your sarcasm detector may be broken?

Re:junk science (2, Interesting)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877771)

Not to mention that, this being BYU, they probably have some serious selection bias going on in terms of study participants.

Re:junk science (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877777)

And a demonstration that an attractive woman can get money and resources from a major university to run a useless study.

How would you describe the scent of the room you're in right now? My guess: bitter.

Is this a joke? (4, Insightful)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877051)

Morality...Product placement...

The study titled "The Smell of Virtue" was unusually simple and conclusive. Participants engaged in several tasks, the only difference being that some worked in unscented rooms, while others worked in rooms freshly spritzed with Windex

...top-notch scientists...

Katie Liljenquist, assistant professor of organizational leadership at BYU's Marriott School of Management, is the lead author on the piece in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science.

...looks to a win/win situation for both SC Johnson and the LDS.

... next to godliness (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877079)

Cleanliness really IS next to godliness.

Windex = clean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877123)

The study was done with unscented rooms and rooms with a few spritzes of citrus windex.

Am I the only one who would think that unscented = clean? Because according to the study, citrus windex = clean, and unscented = not clean.

This should be sterile (unscented) vs. perfumed (citrus windex).

When I smell a co-worker doused in perfume, I usually think she's covering up for NOT being clean. I do prefer the fresh scent of lilac and lavender (GAIN Laundry!) It makes me ever so polite and generous.

Totally BS (1)

harris s newman (714436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877157)

So I would assume that hospitals smell good. The medical industry all smells good. So why is there so much corruption in that industry?

Re:Totally BS (3, Insightful)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877253)

Ah, you've never been to a hospital, have you? That or you enjoy the combined odors of generic lysol, old people, and death.

Re:Totally BS (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877371)

Garbage trucks smell good. Why is the sanitation industry always associated with the mafia?

Hey (4, Funny)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877187)

This explains why the average Slashdotter has such disregard for copyright!

BYU article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877229)

            http://news.byu.edu/archive09-Oct-smellofvirtue.aspx - original article with a video

Brigham Young University? (0, Offtopic)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877233)

The same Brigham Young University that has an article about how one of their archaeologists has proven the Book of Mormon's ludicrous ficitonal pre-Colombian American History is valid? http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/50535 [byu.edu]

Re:Brigham Young University? (1)

FrigBot (1459361) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877667)

I don't have any mod points left so I'll pay you in Cheetos...*

*Disclaimer: I read that once, and I'm not pretending to be the original author of the above cleverly-worded sentence. But it fits this situation, I think.

This study brought to you by Windex. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877367)

Windex, not only cleans your house, but now cleans up your life!

Re:This study brought to you by Windex. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877955)

But it doesn't have what plants crave.

It's because they have it backwards (0, Flamebait)

dmomo (256005) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877395)

Correlation/Causation and all that. The point is... unethical behavior is what leads to the bad smells.

So it is the new car smell ... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877397)

... that makes the auto salesmen pull all kinds of dirty tricks.

My Fat Greek product placement (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877401)

Who funded this study again?

Windex? seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877409)

This ethical study brought to you by S. C. Johnson & Son Inc.

Citrius Windex makes me punch things (1)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877437)

Not sure how it could encourage good behavior.

Blah.

Strip Club Smell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29877677)

What about at strip clubs, where they clean frequently with Isopropyl Alcohol... Those places are ethical right?

Sounds like Wall Street... (1)

Muckluck (759718) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877735)

Sounds like wall street could use a few hundred cases of Windex. Straighten out them bankers once and fer all... On second thought, Washington DC, all state capitals and local governments need a few cases as well. This is what happens when Aunt Bea isn't around to clean the courthouse / jail daily.

From BYU? (5, Interesting)

jonnat (1168035) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877883)

A Brigham Young University professor suggesting a possible biochemical link to ethical behavior. Sounds like a letter of resignation to me.

You ain't seen nothing yet (1)

tinkerton (199273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29877899)

Wait till they try out Linex. Trounces Windex hands down it will!

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