Seems that all those Instagrammed photos of food are more than just annoying, they could hurt our desire to eat.
Researchers from Brigham Young University studied 232 people who they made look at and rate pictures of food. In one of their studies, half of the participants viewed 60 pictures of sweet foods like cake, truffles and chocolates, while the other half looked at 60 pictures of salt foods such as chips, pretzels and French fries. After rating each picture based on how appetizing that food appeared, each participant finished the experiment by eating peanuts, a salty food. Participants then rated how much they enjoyed eating the peanuts.
In the end, the people who had looked at the salty foods ended up enjoying the peanuts less, even though they never looked at peanuts, just at other salty foods. The notion is that when you are over exposed to food imagery it increases what the authors call satiation which they define as the drop in enjoyment with repeated consumption. Or, in other words, the fifth bite of cake or the fourth hour of playing a video game are both less enjoyable than the first, the researchers stated.
"If you want to enjoy your food consumption experience, avoid looking at too many pictures of food. Even I felt a little sick to my stomach during the study after looking at all the sweet pictures we had." Said Jeff Larson, co-author of a paper on the study and marketing professor with BYU's Marriott School of Management in a statement.
"In a way, you're becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food," said study coauthor and BYU professor Ryan Elder. "It's sensory boredom - you've kind of moved on. You don't want that taste experience anymore."
The authors said the effect is strongest the more pictures one views. "You do have to look at a decent number of pictures to get these effects," Elder said. "It's not like if you look at something two or three times you'll get that satiated effect."
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