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Guilty pleasure: Women can't resist chocolate when they know they shouldn't have it, says study

// UK
  • Feeling guilty increases your enjoyment of chocolate or other sweet treats, researchers have discovered.
  • Eating chocolate might not be entirely harmful, so long as it is dark chocolate as studies have found it is good for your heart

By Daniel Bates

PUBLISHED: 11:09 EST, 7 December 2012 | UPDATED: 12:53 EST, 7 December 2012

Enjoyment: Feeling guilty increases your enjoyment of chocolate or other sweet treats, researchers have discovered

Enjoyment: Feeling guilty increases your enjoyment of chocolate or other sweet treats, researchers have discovered

Feeling guilty increases your enjoyment of chocolate or other sweet treats, researchers have discovered.

Forty women were split into two equal groups with one half asked to look at healthy living magazines with pictures of people looking slim and fit.

The other half were asked to look at magazines with pictures unrelated to well being.

All 40 women were then given a chocolate bar and asked how much they enjoyed the experience.

Those who had read the healthy living magazine reported that they liked the sweets 16 per cent more than those who did not.

The study was lead by Kelly Goldsmith, an assistant professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

She said: ‘If you advertise your product as being ‘guilt-free’ what it could implicitly do is lower taste perception by lowering the expectation of pleasure.

‘If you take the guilt out of it, people might not expect it to be as good, and therefore it might not taste as good.

‘Let people benefit from the intrigue and pleasure and enjoy their experience more.’

A separate study she carried out appeared to back up her findings.

Pleasures: Professor Goldsmith added a note of caution that the same principle applies to other guilty pleasures like smoking and drinking

Some 108 students were either asked to recall an experience which made them feel guilty or a neutral one and then write about it.

They all then ate a chocolate truffle - with the results showing the guilty group liked it far more.

This study also supported the idea that ‘experiencing the emotion of guilt can increase pleasure,’ Professor Goldsmith wrote.

She added a note of caution that the same principle applies to other guilty pleasures like smoking and drinking.

But eating chocolate might not be entirely harmful, so long as it is dark chocolate as studies have found it is good for your heart.

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