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The smell of coffee could help boost academic performance, alertness

Researchers enrolled 100 undergraduate students to take a 10-question GMAT algebra test.

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In previous studies, coffee consumption has demonstrated efficacy in lowering the risk of type-2 diabetes and heart disease. But new research found that the scent of coffee alone could provide beneficiary effects to the mind, like increased academic performance, and mental alertness.

For the study, a team of researchers from the Stevens Institute of Technology, Temple University, and Baruch College, enrolled 100 undergraduate students to take a 10-question GMAT (Graduate Management Aptitude Test) algebra test. A portion of the participants were instructed to take the exam in a room with a coffee-like scent, while the rest of the participants completed the test in a non-scented room.

Adriana Madzharov, the study’s co-author, discovered that participants who took the exam in a coffee-like scented room showed considerably higher test results compared to their counterpart. Additionally, this group of participants exhibited higher self-confidence before the exam even began.

“It’s not just that the coffee-like scent helped people perform better on analytical tasks, which was already interesting,” said Madzharov. “But they also thought they would do better, and we demonstrated that this expectation was at least partly responsible for their improved performance.”

Although the findings only highlighted the benefits on the basis of academia, researchers believe the scent of coffee may also aid in boosting productivity in the workplace.

“Olfaction is one of our most powerful senses. Employers, architects, building developers, retail space managers and others, can use subtle scents to help shape employees’ or occupants’ experience with their environment. It’s an area of great interest and potential.”

Researchers hope to expand their understanding of olfaction and coffee by focusing on other skillsets in future research.

The study’s findings were published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

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