When I eat M&M’s, I never just crunch through them indiscriminately. First off, I only eat one at a time, each piece must be enjoyed just right. I begin by sucking on the crisp candy shell until the sugary coating has all but dissolved, then I delicately crack through into the center. Finally, I allow the hidden prize, the softened chocolate pastille, to be savored as it melts slowly on my tongue.
The idea for the research topic came about when Kathleen Vohs, a marketing professor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, pondered over the power of rituals after noticing the intriguing routines that people – including herself, perform even around everyday eating and drinking.
“Whenever I order an espresso, I take a sugar packet and shake it, open the packet and pour a teeny bit of sugar in, and then taste,” says Vohs. “It’s never enough sugar, so I then pour about half of the packet in. The thing is, this isn’t a functional ritual, I should just skip right to pouring in half the packet.”
To investigate the impact of these behaviors on our perception of taste, Vohs and her team of researchers carried out four experiments.
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