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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Would infusing Cleaning Smells on the Tube lead to Cleaner Carriages?

Could this be the answer to less litter on the London Underground? A team of Dutch social psychologists have proposed a solution to the litter problem on trains - infuse subway carriages with the citrus scent of cleaning products. Martinijn de Lange and colleagues carried out a
field experiment where they concealed seven small containers of cleaning product (spiced up with a little Capitaine perfume oil) in the luggage racks of two carriages on a train travelling between Amersfoort-Schothorst and Enkhuizen, a journey of one hour and forty-four minutes.

Piccadilly Line Litter
Based on measures taken over 18 journeys, the average amount of rubbish on the unscented carriages was more than three times the weight of the rubbish collected from the scented carriages (35.6 grams vs. 11.7 grams). In terms of individual rubbish items, there were on average 5.1 in the control carriages per journey but only 2.7 in the scented carriages.  Their findings are published in a paper "Making less of a mess: Scent exposure as a tool for behavioural change"

"It seems to be possible to change the littering behaviour of people in a train environment using a simple and relatively cheap intervention," the researchers said to the British Psychological Society.  "The positive results of our scent manipulation in a field setting provide support for the idea that the cognitive route of scents to behaviour can be used as a tool for behavioural change. Merely dispersing a scent seems to trigger related goals and influence subsequent behaviour."

Thanks to Ianvisits for alerting me to this research

In 2001 TfL trialled exposing commuters to a perfume called "Madeleine" at St James's Park, Euston and Piccadilly Circus stations (presumably they felt those stations were in more need of fragrance than others).

The fragrance was "a fresh, watery floral bouquet of rose and jasmine combined with citrus top notes. Tiny touches of fruit and herbs give way to strong woody accents and a hint of sweetness in the base." and was said to counteract the "interesting collection of odours in stations, reflecting all aspects of London life, some nice, some not so nice." It was withdrawn after a day as it made passengers feel sick.

The experiment that the Dutch researchers carried out could also be subject to the same conclusions.  Maybe people just didn't like being in a carriage that smelt of cleaning products and moved to ones with more "natural" smells.  This could have also been why there was less litter!  Any other theories as to why there might have been less litter?  Do you think an idea like this could help to reduce litter on the Tube?

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; Posted by Unknown Thursday, April 12, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE