Environmentally Induced Positive Affect: Its Impact on Self-Efficacy, Task Performance, Negotiation, and Conflict1


  • 1

    I wish to express my sincere appreciation to Maryalice Citera for her aid in data collection and analysis, and to Susan Elliott, Tom Fortney, John Harvil, and Catherine Scionti for their able assistance in collecting the data.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert A. Baron, Department of Psychology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590.


Male and female subjects performed several tasks either in the presence or absence of an environmental source of positive affect (pleasant artificial scents produced by two commercially manufactured air-fresheners). Consistent with the findings of previous research on the impact of positive affect, results indicated that several aspects of subjects' behavior were influenced by this variable. Participants exposed to pleasant scents set higher goals on a clerical coding task and were more likely to adopt an efficient strategy for performing this task than subjects not exposed to such conditions. In addition, males (but not females) reported higher self-efficacy in the presence of pleasant artificial scents than in their absence. Participants exposed to pleasant scents also set higher monetary goals and made more concessions during face-to-face negotiations with an accomplice. Finally, subjects exposed to pleasant scents reported weaker preferences for handling future conflicts with the accomplice through avoidance and competition. Analyses of covariance suggested that these differences stemmed largely from contrasting levels of positive affect among subjects in the neutral and pleasant scent conditions. Together, these results suggest that pleasant artificial scents may provide a potentially useful means for enhancing the environmental quality of work settings, and hence the performance and attitudes of persons in them.