Based on the symbolic association between physical and moral purity, we introduce a provocative possibility: clean smells might not only regulate physical cleanliness, but may also motivate virtuous behavior. Indeed, moral transgressions can engender literal feelings of dirtiness (Zhong & Liljenquist, 2006). Just as many symbolic associations are reciprocally related (Lakoff, 1987), such as coldness and loneliness (Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008) or darkness and depravity (Frank & Gilovich, 1988), morality and cleanliness may also be reciprocally linked. In the current research, we investigate whether clean scents can transcend the domain of physical cleanliness and promote virtuous behavior.
Liljenquist, K., C.B. Zhong, and Adam Galinsky. "The smell of virtue: Clean scents promote reciprocity and charity." Psychological Science 21 (2010): 381-383.
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