Does a Floral Scent Make You Buy

MLA style: "Does a Floral Scent Make You Buy?." The Free Library. 1999 Scholastic, Inc. 25 Jun. (2014).

Ever notice when you enter the mall, your nose is bombarded with smells, from cinnamon buns to potpourri? Can these scents make you feel like spending big bucks?

Dr. Alan Hirsch wanted to know. As director of neurology (nervous system science) at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, Illinois, Hirsch studies the power of scents on the brain. He wanted to see if odors influence shoppers' opinions of a product (for example, sneakers) and urge them to shell out more money.

To get results, Hirsch didn't simply survey frequent shoppers. He ran a well organized 2016 Nike Air Max Nike Air Max 2016 study using the scientific method, a step by step approach to research. "The scientific method allows you to organize your thoughts and avoid bogus results," Hirsch says.


The first step in the scientific method is to follow your nose. That is, make an observation the act of noticing something. For instance, in doing his work, Hirsch observed that odors often alter people's brain wave activity. (Brain waves are electrical signals given off when brain cells fire messages.) The smell of lavender tends to increase brain wave action in the 2016 Nike Air Max back part of the brain associated with relaxation. Jasmine increases brain wave action in the front part of the brain linked with alertness.

These observations led Hirsch to formulate a research question: What is the effect of odor on a person's buying behavior not just their brain waves? In other words, can the smell of flowers persuade someone to fall in love with a pair of sneakers and fork over a wad of cash?

Next, Hirsch conducted background research to see if any other labs had conducted similar studies. He plowed through medical journals, but didn't find any answers to his question.

Time for original research. Hirsch formulated a hypothesis an educated guess about what the answer to his research question might be. He predicted that odors can influence people to spend money.


Hirsch then set out to design an experiment, a study that put his hypothesis to the test. An experiment must be carefully constructed to test the effect of one variable, or characteristic, on another for instance, the effect of floral scent on a shopper's desire to buy sneakers.

Experiments are stocked with variables, but a good scientist changes only one of them on purpose. This variable is called the independent or manipulated variable. Hirsch's independent variable was the floral scent.

Changing the independent variable (that is, adding or removing the scent) will affect other variables. These other variables are known as dependent or responding variables. 12). He and his research team placed an identical pair of Nike sneakers in two identical rooms. They sprayed one room with a mixed floral scent and left the second room odor flee. The odor free room served as a control, a standard against which the researchers could compare the effects of the floral scent.

The researchers asked 35 volunteers, ages 18 through 69, to enter each room one at a time. While in each room, the volunteers filled out a survey asking them to evaluate the sneakers.

Hirsch used many techniques to make sure his results were reliable. For example, between test rooms, the volunteers entered a "wash out" room for three minutes. This neutral room gave the volunteers a chance to clear their sense of smell. That way, these variables would not interfere with the volunteers' responses.

The study was also blinded the volunteers didn't know the purpose of the experiment, nor were they told that one room was sprayed with a floral scent. To make sure the results were even more accurate, Hirsch conducted repeated trials. Instead of having one person fill out surveys, he enlisted 35.


After tabulating the surveys, reached a conclusion, a summary of his results. A whopping 84 percent of the volunteers said they preferred the sneakers in the floral scented room (even though they were identical to the pair in the odor flee room). In addition, they said they would pay about $10 more for them!

Hirsch's hypothesis proved true: An odor can influence a shopper's opinion. But how? One theory, according to Hirsch, is that smells are linked with emotions. "The portion of the brain that controls smell is located in the limbic lobe, the center part of the brain that also controls emotions," he explains. "The quickest way to change emotions is with smell."

Hirsch published his results in a scientific journal so other researchers could share his data. Clearly, mall managers must have their noses in scientific research, too. "They put odors in the air to enhance sales and make people stay longer," Hirsch says.

Is it mind control? "As long as you're aware of these practices, you can ask yourself, Hey, am I more likely to buy this product because of the smell here, or do I really need it?'"

Use the scientific method to conduct your own experiment or duplicate Hirsch's at the mall. The rest of this issue will help you design a really scent sational experiment!

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