The taste of effort

It is axiomatic that you appreciate something more if you have to work to get it. Maybe this is just a palliative for the jealousy we feel towards those who are born into immense wealth but new research suggests quite the opposite. In the case of food, for instance, it seems that it even tastes better the more difficult it is to get.

The researchers from Johns Hopkins University trained mice to respond to two levers. If they pressed one lever just once they were immediately rewarded with a sugary treat. The other lever had to be pressed fifteen times to deliver a similar but different treat. Later when offered a choice between the two treats the mice showed a clear preference for the food they worked harder for.

In a second experiment the mice received less sweet treats from the two levers. Again, the mice ate more of the treat that was associated with more effort and even appeared to enjoy it more. “Licking behaviour” which indicates how much the mice enjoy or savour their food was also increased for the high effort treat.

It all provides evidence to support the idea that if you have to expend effort to obtain a food then you will value that food more and that increased value makes the food taste better. On the one hand this may explain the difficulty one can have getting the attention of a waiter at certain establishments; it might be a deliberate ploy to make the experience a little more arduous and make the food taste that much better. Additionally though, the aspiring restauranteur may see further possibilities.

Perhaps a short maze that needs to be navigated from restaurant door to table and then a spirited tussle with a black belt karate master for one of the seats at the table will provide the difficulty required in order to pique the dining experience. It is to be hoped, of course, that satisfied restaurant patrons will be able to resist the \\\”licking behaviour\\\” of their rodent cousins.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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