Healthy reflections

December 17, 2015

People often choose the unhealthy food because they think it is tastier. Aiming for solutions promoting healthy eating practices and ultimately combating obesity, this research shows that the presence of a mirror in a consumption setting can reduce the perceived tastiness of unhealthy food, which consequently reduces its consumption.

In a taste test study, 185 undergraduate students chose between a chocolate cake and a fruit salad and then evaluated its taste in a room with a mirror or with no mirrors around. Those who selected the chocolate cake evaluated it less tasty in the room with a mirror compared to those with no mirrors around. However, the presence of a mirror did not change the taste of the fruit salad.

Lead researcher Ata Jami of the University of Central Florida explains, "A glance in the mirror tells people more than just about their physical appearance. It enables them to view themselves objectively and helps them to judge themselves and their behaviors in a same way that they judge others." He found that mirrors can push people to compare and match their behaviors with social standards of correctness. Accordingly, when one fails to follow the standards, he/she does not want to look at a mirror because it enhances the discomfort of the failure. Thus, the presence of a mirror induces a discomfort and lowers the perceived taste of the unhealthy food. This only holds true if the food is selected by the diner because then he/she feels responsible for the food choice. Eating healthy does not induce any discomfort and, as a result, mirror does not change the taste of healthy food.

This research suggests that placing a mirror in dining rooms and other eating spaces so that diners can see themselves eat, can be an effective way for individuals and restaurants to encourage healthier eating practices.
-end-
This article is published in the inaugural issue of the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research entitled "The Behavioral Science of Eating." This issue has been edited by Brian Wansink of Cornell University and Koert van Ittersum of the University of Groningen.

Cornell Food & Brand Lab

Related Taste Articles from Brightsurf:

Re-mapping taste in the brain
A new study from Stony Brook University found that the map of neural responses mediating taste perception does not involve, as previously believed, specialized groups of neurons in the brain, but rather overlapping and spatially distributed populations.

Sweet taste reduces appetite?
To date, very little is known about how sweetness perception contributes to satiety.

Touch and taste? It's all in the tentacles
Scientists identified a novel family of sensors in the first layer of cells inside the suction cups that have adapted to react and detect molecules that don't dissolve well in water.

How octopus suckers "taste by touch"
Imagine if you could taste something simply by touching it.

Fish oil without the fishy smell or taste
A new study, co-led by University of Cincinnati researchers, describes the development of a refining process that scientists deem a superior method to help produce better dietary omega-3 health and dietary supplements containing fish oil.

New type of taste cell discovered in taste buds
Our mouths may be home to a newly discovered set of multi-tasking taste cells that -- unlike most known taste cells, which detect individual tastes -- are capable of detecting sour, sweet, bitter and umami stimuli.

Sweet-taste perception changes as children develop
While adults prefer levels of sweetness similar to typical soft drinks, children and adolescents are less sensitive to the taste and prefer concentrations that are 50% sweeter, according to research by professor of food science and human nutrition M.

Evolution of loss of smell or taste in COVID-19
This survey-based study examines the clinical course of the loss of sense of smell and taste in a case series of mildly symptomatic patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Chanterelle mushrooms as a taste enhancer
Chanterelles give savoury dishes a rich body and a unique complex flavor.

Neuromarketing of taste
Marina Domracheva and Sofya Kulikova, researchers from HSE University's campus in Perm, have discovered a new approach to analyse the perceived similarity of food products, based on electroencephalography (EEG) signals.

Read More: Taste News and Taste Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.