Pleasure as a Substitute for Size:
How Multisensory Imagery Can Make People Happier with Smaller Food Portions
Research on overeating assumes that pleasure must be sacrificed for the sake of good health. Contrary to this view, the authors show that focusing on sensory pleasure can make people happier and willing to spend more for less food, a triple win for public health, consumers and businesses alike. In five experiments, American and French adults and children were asked to imagine vividly the taste, smell and oro-haptic sensations of three hedonic foods prior to choosing a portion size of another hedonic food. Compared to a control condition, this “multisensory imagery” intervention led hungry and non-dieting people to choose smaller food portions, yet they anticipated greater eating enjoyment and were willing to pay more for them. This occurred because it prompted participants to evaluate portions based on expected sensory pleasure, which peaks with smaller portions, rather than on hunger. In contrast, health-based interventions led people to choose a smaller portion than the one they expected to enjoy most—a hedonic cost for them and an economic cost for food marketers.
Pierre Chandon is a Professor of Marketing at the INSEAD in France.
Talk organized by the PSYFOOD UCL-ULB joint research group
(Promotors: Axel Cleeremans, Olivier Corneille, Olivier Klein, Olivier Luminet, Stephan Van den Broucke)