Lavender is generally used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation, and even sleep. And now, a team of researchers have shown that these calming effects can also help boost an important social sentiment: trust.
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For the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers exposed one group of people to lavender and the other group to peppermint. Then, they played a trust game, where one person was given 5 euros and has to decide how much he’d give to another person. Person 1 would then receive more money depending on how much Person 2 wanted to give back to him. The amount of money exchanging hands was studied as an indication of mutual trust between the two people. What they found was that people gave significantly more money when they were exposed to the lavender scent as opposed to peppermint — meaning they felt a greater sense of mutual trust.
These findings are interesting for the implications they could have on how we relate to each other. Researcher Roberta Sellaro explained: “Mutual trust is the social glue of society,” she said in a press release. “Interpersonal trust is an essential element for social co-operation, bargaining and negotiation.” For some people, like a car salesperson for example, their livelihood relies on mutual trust between his customers and him. Maybe filtering some lavender through the air ducts could help boost those sales?
“The smell of lavender may also be helpful in sport psychology to enhance trust and build team spirit, for example in the case of team games such as soccer and volleyball,” Sellaro added. So stock up those locker rooms with some nice lavender-scented air fresheners—just don’t go overboard! Feeling too relaxed and sleepy is probably not the best game-winning strategy.
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