Last week we wrote about this Japanese smartphone app that tricked you into fullness with the help of a fancy smell cartridge and some food photography. The idea was, if you couldn’t afford meat that day, you could just call up the app and enjoy the sight and smell of grilled Korean BBQ alongside your paltry bowl of rice.
Well, it turns out that science was actually right this time. According to a recent study from researchers at Brigham Young University, “over-exposure to food imagery increases people’s satiation,” or “the drop in enjoyment with repeated consumption.” In other words, staring at pictures of food porn too long tricks your brain into thinking you’ve already eaten that food.
“In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food,” the study’s coauthor and BYU professor Ryan Elder, said in the press release. “It’s sensory boredom – you’ve kind of moved on. You don’t want that taste experience anymore.”
Elder and his fellow researchers came to this conclusion after asking 232 participants to look at 60 photos of either sweet or salty food, and then having those participants eat peanuts. They found the people who looked at the salty food enjoyed the peanuts significantly less than those who looked at sweet food, even if none of the photos they observed strictly featured peanuts. The familiar sensation of saltiness was still enough to register.
According to the BYU article, however, it takes a good amount of photographs in order for this satiation to set in, so there’s no need to shield your eyes whenever your foodie friend posts to Instagram. It doesn’t say whether the effect works when looking at photos of food you’ve never had before though.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to head over to flickr. I have a couple tasting menus I’ve been dying to try.
H/T + PicThx BYU