I want to share some interesting bits from a book I’m currently reading. “How we decide“. A rather average book among the heaping pile of the pop psychology titles being published recently.

The book details many psyc experiments to do with how the brain works. Some might sound familiar to those who’ve taken some PSYC-100 courses in school. I found these of particular interest to a food blogger such as myself. You’ll see why.

strawberry jam1. An industry study measuring the quality of several strawberry jams invited a panel of professional food tasters to rate a selection of jams on a numbered scale on the characteristics of sweetness, taste, enjoyment, spreadability, and a few other criteria. Result was that brand A was the best, and brand Z the worst. Years later, a professor attempted to repeat the same test with his students, and got the same results. However, when the test was given with an extra criteria of “why”, as in “explain why did you think the jam is highly spreadable”, the results were reversed. Brand Z, the cheapest jam in the group, got the highest score.

2. In another test, all subjects were given a word puzzle test after ingesting an energy drink, labeled as providing higher alertness and energy. Half of the subjects paid the full price for the energy drink before the test, while the other subjects were told to pay only half. The result of the test shows that the group that paid the cheaper sale price scored 30% lower on average.

3. A group of students were asked to do a blind taste test of 5 different bottles of wine. Although among the 5, one $5 wine was presented once as $5, then again as $45. Not surprisingly, the $45 wine rated as being far superior than the same bottle labeled at $5. This test was given again to wine experts, those that frequently consume and judge the quality of wines, and received the same results.