The Independent Variables (IVs) were the smell of the citrus scented all-purpose cleaner and the 40 words that the respondents were supposed to identify (Holland, Hendriks & Aarts, 2005). The number of questions that respondents were able to identify, the listing of the activities that the respondents planned to do that day as well as the tendency to clean up while eating the crumbling cookie were all dependent variables. These activities were dependent on the presence or absence of scent in the room where a participant was placed. Operational definitions were the place (cubicle), the quantity of the diffused all-purpose cleaner (45ml) and the quality of water (1.5L) into which the cleaner was put (Holland, Hendriks & Aarts, 2005). The hiding of the bucket and the crumbling cookie, also defines the operations under which the study took place.
Potential confounding variables
The introduction of 20 non-words is a confounding variable. Actual words related to or unrelated to cleaning makes sense in that a respondent placed in a scented room tended to identify more cleaning-related words as compared to non-cleaning words. However, the non-words appear redundant. They served to confuse, slow down, and alter the manner in which respondents identified the proper words.
Strengths and weaknesses of the study design
There are several strengths of the study design. First, none of the participants was able to guess the hypotheses under investigation; therefore, the respondents had minimal chance of giving biased or incorrect responses. Second, the study used accurate quantitative (e.g. identification of cleaning-related words) and minor aspects of qualitative (description of the kind of scent). These aspects played complementary roles in the determination of the research hypotheses. Third, the study design was simple and; therefore, the results analysis and discussion were easy and straightforward.
The weaknesses of the study design included the use of a small number of participants and the use of confusing “non-words” as a confounding variable. Only 50 participants took part in the first study. The number included only ten males. It the second study 50 people took part with only 19 males. In the third study, 22 people took part with six males. The study would have had results that are more credible if it had included more people (say 100) and observed gender balance.
Situations smell might influence my behavior
Smell can influence my behavior in several situations. For instance, when I am hungry, and I smell something nice and appealing such as chocolate cookies, I may decide to eat. When I smell a garbage truck, I am likely to walk down the street faster. When I smell some nice fragrance in the room, I tend to feel more relaxed and happy.
How the activation of other senses influences behavior
The activation of other senses has a deep impact on behavior. Nice and pleasant smells followed by positive feelings accompanying sight, sound, taste and touch heightens the tendency for action. For instance, when one smells oranges, s/he might want to eat the oranges. However, when they get to see the oranges nicely cut and looking juicy, their urge to eat the oranges is heightened, they salivate and want the oranges “desperately”. In a case where the person takes a bite of the orange, and feels that it tastes bitter, they are likely to discontinue eating the oranges. As such, all senses must complement each other, in order for there to be a continuous and full behavioral response.
Other ways that one could measure cleaning-related behaviors
One can use the effects of sight, sound and taste to measure cleaning-related behaviors. For instance, putting on some sweet music, alternating it with loud and clumsy music in a room that is dirty, and then investigating under what type of music someone is likely to clean the room. Moreover, the sight of beautiful paintings on the walls or lack of can also be tested whether on the cleaning-behavior that it elicits. These methods can be investigated observationally, and the results evaluated using common statistical methods.
Evaluation of each of the four validities
Construct validity-The operational variables (quality of cleaning agent, water, the type of cookie, the number of words to be identified) were satisfactory. However, the time limit within which the respondent was supposed to identify the words was largely undefined.
Internal validity- The study allows the researchers and the readers to draw simple and straightforward causal relationships from the study. For instance, cleaning-related scents evoke a higher identification rate for cleaning-related words.
External validity-The results of the study can be highly generalized for other settings. For instance, in the similar manner that “cleaning-related smells” elicit “cleaning-related plans,” so can “eating-related smells” elicit tendencies related to eating such as planning to shop for groceries, cook or go out for dinner.
Conclusion validity- senses (sight, touch, smell, sound, and taste) have strong influences on human behavior regardless of whether one is conscious of the factors activating the sense(s).
Holland, R. W., Hendriks, M., & Aarts, H. (2005). Smells Like Clean Spirit. Nonconscious Effects Of Scent On Cognition And Behavior. Psychological Science, 16(9), 689-693.