Workplaces of all kinds are places where you can smell coffee’s fragrant aroma, appreciate its brown color and her the sound of its percolation. It’s no secret that business and coffee go well together, because caffeine has been shown to help with focus.
It turns out you may not need to drink the coffee to get that benefit. New research from Monash University in Australia and the University of Toronto in Canada found that the placebo effect of coffee’s sights, smells and sounds can increase coffee drinkers’ arousal, ambition and focus even if they don’t drink it.
“Smelling coffee gives rise to the beverage’s psychoactive, arousing effects,” said Dr. Eugene Chan, a marketing lecturer at the Monash Business School, in a statement announcing the publication of the study. Chan noted that the brains of coffee drinkers are conditioned to respond as they do to the stimulus of coffee.
The research, in which nearly 900 people from eastern and western cultures were exposed to images, smells, or sounds of coffee, found increases in heart rate, energy levels, alertness and in thinking narrowly when working on four experiments that would make them think of coffee without drinking it.
The researchers also found that the effects of the coffee cues were stronger in people from western countries, where coffee is more popular and is associated with energy, focus and ambition.
“This study could even help to explain how drinking decaffeinated coffee can produce faster reaction times on tasks,” Chan said.
This study was published in the journal “Consciousness and Cognition” in April.