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Can the smell of fresh bread make us kinder to strangers?

The smell of homemade bread doeAn small study has found that the smell of fresh bread causes us to be more altruistic. (Thinkstock)sn't just make us crave fresh-from-the-oven carbs, it also makes us kinder to strangers — or so a new study claims.

The study, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, found that people are more inclined to lend a helping hand when smelling freshly baked goods.

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A small team of researchers from France's University of Southern Brittany sent four volunteers to stand outside a clothing store. They sent another four volunteers to stand outside a bakery. As shoppers passed by, the volunteers "accidentally" dropped small personal items, like gloves and handkerchiefs, the NY Daily News reports.

The researchers found that 77 per cent of the shoppers who walked by the volunteers outside the bakery stopped to pick up the dropped items, while only 52 per cent of shoppers stopped outside the clothing store.

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The experiment was repeated 400 times, each time leading the researchers to conclude that pleasant smells "trigger a positive mood that leads to a greater degree of altruism, or unconditional concern for the welfare of others," the Daily Mail reports.

Of course, if you're on a diet that's severely limiting your carb intake, the smell of fresh bread might make you hostile rather than hospitable.

The study doesn't indicate if factors like time of day or weather were controlled for in the study.   

Watch the video below reporting on the new bread study.  

 

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