The aroma of a mouth-watering dessert can make you splurge money on unnecessary purchases. A new study has
suggested that exposure to something that stimulates the appetite can make a person more impulsive with unrelated
purchases.


http://www.entnet.org/images/food.jpg

The study, led by
Xiuping Li of National University of Singapore, found that an appetitive
stimulus not only affects behaviour in a specific behaviour domain, but also
induces a shared state that propels a consumer to choose smaller–sooner
options in unrelated
domains.

"We found that an
appetitive stimulus not only affects behaviour in a specific behaviour domain,
but also induces a shared state that propels a consumer to choose
smaller–sooner options in unrelated domains. Similarly, the presence of an
attractive woman in the trading room might propel an investor to choose the
investment option providing smaller but sooner rewards," Li
said.

The study was divided
into two experiments. In the first, Li asked people to act as ‘photo editors of
a magazine’ and choose among either appetite stimulating pictures of food or
non-appetite stimulating pictures of nature. A control group was shown no
pictures at all. All were then asked to participate in a lottery that would
either pay them less money sooner or more money
later.

The results showed that
those who had been exposed to the photos of food were almost twenty percentage
points more likely to choose the lottery with the chance of a smaller, more
immediate payoff than those who were exposed to the photos of nature and eleven
percentage points more likely to choose the short-term gain than those unexposed
to any stimulus.

In the second
experiment, the researchers used a cookie-scented candle to further gauge
whether appetitive stimulus affects consumer
behaviour.

Female study
participants in a room with a hidden chocolate-chip cookie scented candle were
much more likely to make an unplanned purchase of a new sweater, even when told
they were on a tight budget, than those randomly assigned to a room with a
hidden unscented candle.

"The
scent of the appetitive stimulus led to reduced happiness with remote gains,
which implied that participants in a present-oriented state were less sensitive
to future values. In addition, (this) experiment showed that participants were
more likely to satisfy their current and spontaneous desire if they were exposed
to the unrelated appetitive stimulus before they made the decision," Li
said.

Via Times of India