A new study has revealed that being pleasantly surprised or disappointed with a food can actually change a person’s mood.
Researchers found that eating vanilla yoghurts made people feel happy, and that yoghurts with lower fat content gave people a stronger positive emotional response.
Lead author Jozina Mojet of the Food and Biobased Research said that they were surprised to find that by measuring emotions, they could get information about products independent from whether people like them, adding that this kind of information could be very valuable to product manufacturers.
The researchers used a new method called an emotive projection test to determine the effect of different yoghurts on people’s moods.
In the study, three groups of at least 24 participants were each given a pair of yoghurts to taste. The pairs of yoghurts were of the same brand and were marketed in the same way, but had different flavors or fat content. The team then tested their emotions using four methods.
According to the results, liking or being familiar with a product had no effect on a person’s emotion. However, changes in whether they liked it after tasting the yoghurt did, being pleasantly surprised or disappointed about the food influenced people’s moods.
Surprisingly, vanilla yoghurt elicited a strong positive emotional response, supporting previous evidence that a subtle vanilla scent in places like hospital waiting rooms can reduce aggression and encourage relationships among patients and between patients and staff.
The study suggested the new method could be an effective way to gather information about a product before taking it to market.
The study is published in the Journal Food Research International.