The smell of freshly baked bread is heavenly. Many of us find the aroma downright irresistible, which can stir our appetite.
But the aroma of a freshly baked loaf of bread may trigger more than just hunger - it may also make us kinder to strangers. That's what French researchers found when they studied the effects of delectable aromas and social interaction.
People were more likely to alert a stranger they had dropped a belonging if they were surrounded by the mouth-watering scent of freshly baked bread, according to the study which was published in the Journal of Social Psychology.
The study was conducted by the University of Southern Brittany in France. Eight young men and women were recruited for the experiments, which involved standing outside a bakery or a clothing store. The volunteers were asked to pretend to look for something in their bags and drop a glove, handkerchief or packet of tissues as they walked in front of a passerby.
The experiments were repeated up to 400 times while two observers stood abot 60 feet away. Researchers found that 77 percent of strangers outside the bakery alerted the volunteers of their lost item, versus only 52 percent of passerbys in front of the clothing shop.
''Our results show that, in general, spontaneous help is offered more in areas where pleasant ambient smells are spread,'' reasearchers said. They believe this positive attitude can also result from other pleasant aromas.