Interpersonal trust is one of the most important determinants of initiating, forming, and maintaining social relationships. Because it facilitate so many important social behaviors, such as bonding and cooperative behavior, it is often regarded as the social glue of society … and is therefore something we should all manipulate to our own advantage, ha ha, evil laugh! But, as one study just proved, doing that may be no harder than lighting a few lavender candles.
That's right, pigs in a blanket; although it might seem like the most witchcraft-y of solutions, the scent of lavender has actually been shown to facilitate interpersonal trust. According to a recent study published in the journal Frontiers, it does this by calming people significantly, and using its voodoo magic to initiate positive social behavior.
In fact, the study found that the positive vibe power of lavender is so strong, that it encourages pro-social behavior such as picking up a dropped pen or providing change for money, and enhances people's moods so they think you're not trying to exploit their goodwill for your benefit.
Of course this means you should douse yourself in lavender during your next performance review. Of course you should carry around lavender oil for those times when you need to lie to someone. Clearly you should have lavender candles in handy in case you need them should a policeperson pull you over and ask if you've been imbibing. Mind control is exactly what lavender is for.
To measure lavender's capacity for trickery, researchers had study participants play a trust game. One person, the “trustor,” was given money, and told he could keep it or give as much as he wanted to the the other person, the "trustee." If the trustor decided to share, the trustee's profits tripled and they got to decide whether they wanted to share it in turn with the original trustor.
In the presence of calming ambient lavender aroma, people significantly gave more money to the other person when they were exposed to the scent, showing that they trusted that they would get their money back from whatever putz they were paired with. Researchers hypothesized this was because lavender may temporarily induce a more inclusive cognitive-control state, which influences how much people trust others. This makes sense from an anatomical point of view; the olfactory nerve is connected to the medial prefrontal cortex a brain region that controls interpersonal trust and bonding.
The opposite effect was observed in the presence of a peppermint scent (Peppermint is energizing, and has the effect making people more introspective than social.)
Of course this observation might have serious implications for a broad range of situations in which interpersonal trust is an essential element, such as cooperation, bargaining and negotiation, consumer behavior, and group performance, but mainly use it to convince your cult minions that you're Jesus incarnate but prettier.
So the next time you notice lavender in your lover's room after they've sworn they've stopped seeing Sexy Molly or whatever her face is, you'll know what's up.