Good news for coffee lovers!
Turns out, smelling a coffee-like scent, which has no caffeine in it, creates an expectation for students that they will perform better on tests.
Research at Stevens Institute of Technology revealed that the scent of coffee alone may help people perform better on the analytical portion of the Graduate Management Aptitude Test, or GMAT, a computer adaptive test required by many business schools.
The work, led by Stevens School of Business professor Adriana Madzharov, not only highlighted the hidden force of scent and the cognitive boost it may provide on analytical tasks, but also the expectation that students will perform better on those tasks.
“It’s not just that the coffee-like scent helped people perform better on analytical tasks, which was already interesting,” said Madzharov.
In short, smelling a coffee-like scent, which has no caffeine in it, has an effect similar to that of drinking coffee, suggesting a placebo effect of coffee scent.
In their work, Madzharov and her team administered a 10-question GMAT algebra test in a computer lab to about 100 undergraduate business students, divided into two groups. One group took the test in the presence of an ambient coffee-like scent, while a control group took the same test – but in an unscented room.
They found that the group in the coffee-smelling room scored significantly higher on the test.
The team designed a follow-up survey, conducted among more than 200 new participants, quizzing them on beliefs about various scents and their perceived effects on human performance.
Madzharov, whose research focuses on sensory marketing and aesthetics, is looking to explore whether coffee-like scents can have a similar placebo effect on other types of performance, such as verbal reasoning.
The full findings are present in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. (ANI)
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