Posting a photo of the food you’re about to eat on Instagram has become a daily ritual for many. Often this ‘food porn’ isn’t as appealing to those looking at it, but scientists are now claiming taking a photo of your food before you eat it makes it taste better.
Researchers at University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management claim taking a photo puts you in the moment and in doing so, heightens your senses. The person taking the photo will, on some level, feel the difference creating an incentive to continue the practice.
Kathleen Vohs, the professor of Excellence in Marketing at the Carlson School, wondered about the power of rituals after noticing the funny routines that people often perform before eating and drinking.
Vohs and colleagues conducted experiments to investigate whether these kinds of ritualistic
behaviour influences taste.
In the first experiment, some participants were asked to eat a piece of chocolate following a detailed set of instructions: ‘Without unwrapping the chocolate bar, break it in half. Unwrap half of the bar and eat it. Then, unwrap the other half and eat it.’
The other participants were simply instructed to relax for a short amount of time and then eat the chocolate bar however they wanted.
The results showed that those who had performed the ritual rated the chocolate more highly, savoured it more, and were willing to pay more for the chocolate than the other group.
A second experiment reinforced these findings, showing that random movements don't produce a more enjoyable eating experience. The data also revealed that a longer delay between ritual and consumption bolstered
these effects, even with a neutral food like carrots.
While these rituals may seem small or mundane, the researchers note that the effects they produce are quite tangible. And while rituals are common before mealtimes, they could play a role in other situations, too.