Remember those old Folgers commercials where a person is roused pleasantly from their slumber by the smell of coffee? They’d walk downstairs in their lovely New England home, already bright eyed and bushy tailed, to find a fresh brewed pot of Folgers, and they’d look serenely out their bay windows while gripping a hot cup of coffee with two hands. Turns out, those commercials may have been onto something. New research shows that smelling a coffee-like scent will make you better at math.
According to Newsweek, a new study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology by researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey found that persons exposed to a coffee-like smell performed better on the math portion of the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT), the entrance exam of sorts for business school.
To reach this result, the researchers administered a 10-question GMAT algebra test to 100 undergraduate business students. One group took the test in a room with a coffee aroma pumped in, the other without. According to the article, “those who got a whiff of coffee seemed to experience a boost in mental function and scored significantly higher on the test.”
Researchers believe at least part of the reason for the improved performance from the coffee-like smell—which contained no caffeine whatsoever—has to do with the placebo effect:
The article goes on to note that in a follow-up survey, “the participants believed that they would feel more alert in the presence of a coffee scent and that exposure to this smell would increase their analytical reasoning.”
So while it may be claimed that the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup, this new research seems to show that it is the smell emanating from the cup that is the best part of waking up. But that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, now does it.
Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.