Eating is life. But it's also emotional, says a new study. Looking at menus and advertising affect our emotions and affect our food choices. People who make the healthiest choice have confidence in their emotions.
Next time you order listen to your heart and stomach.
Menus and advertising affect our emotions, and if we understand those emotions, we make better food choices, according to a new study in theJournal of Consumer Research.
Authors Blair Kidwell, David M. Hardesty, and Terry L. Childers (all University of Kentucky) examined the "emotional intelligence" of consumers, including obese people. They found that people who made the healthiest choices had high correlations between their emotional intelligence and confidence in their emotional intelligence—what the authors call "emotional calibration."
"When perusing a restaurant menu, many consumers may not be aware of the subtle implicit feelings of arousal elicited by visually appealing presentations of unhealthy food choices," the authors write. Faced with choices between healthy and unhealthy food options, individuals who are confident that they can appropriately interpret and employ their emotions, but who do not actually possess these emotional abilities, are likely to make low-quality decisions."
In the first of two studies, the authors measured emotional ability, confidence, and nutritional knowledge. They asked participants to plan meals from a menu with a wide range of options—some healthier than others. They found that people with emotional miscalibration chose foods higher in calories, even more so than people with low levels of nutritional knowledge.