The researchers wanted to further test the theory that smell influences behavior so they set up a trust game in a room misted with one of two aromas: lavender, which is considered soothing, and peppermint, which is associated with alertness and energy. The researchers put a few drops of essential oils, diffused by a candle, in the room before the 90 young adults in the study came in to play.
The trust game is a test behavioral researchers use to measure levels of trust. One person (the “trustor”) gets money, and they can keep it or give any amount of it to the other person. When they do, the profits are tripled, and the person who just got a cash infusion (the “trustee”) gets to decide whether to share it with the original trustor.
Without being told about any change in scent, when people smelled lavender, they gave significantly more money than when they had sniffed peppermint or nothing at all.