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How does music affect your eating habits?
Believe it or not, our eating habits are influenced by what music is playing and other forces that we may not be consciously aware of.
When mealtime rolls around and we’re considering what we’ll have to eat, the last thing we think about is what’s on our iPod, and what volume it's playing at. Maybe we should. Do you think you eat healthier when soft or loud music is playing? Researchers at the University of South Florida, Tampa, ran several experiments to find out. Their study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. In it they wrote, “[T]his is the first research to examine the effects of ambient music volume on choices between healthy and unhealthy foods."
If you’re a fan of all things rock’n roll like I am (also ‘90s hip-hop), you’ll probably say loud music has no effect on what you’re eating. You’d be dead wrong. Over several experiments, USF researchers came to understand that soft music influences people to make healthier choices, while loud music causes them to choose less healthful options.
Restaurants, cafes, and eateries are more and more using ambient music to influence consumers in particular ways. Yet, customers usually sail through these environments completely unaware. There’s a high level of variation, however, depending on where you visit. Some places purposely create a soft ambiance and others, a loud, noisy atmosphere.
To find out how background music affected food choice, visitors to one café in Stockholm, Sweden, over the course of two days, encountered many different kinds of music, played on a loop. Volume levels also varied from 55 to 70 decibels. Specific items were selected for the menu and researchers tallied what people had while a certain genre was playing, at a certain volume. These included healthy choices such as salad, neutral choices like coffee or tea, and unhealthy ones, such as cakes and chocolates.
When quieter music played, people were 10% more likely to select healthy choices. When louder music was on, they were more likely to make less healthful ones. In the second study, researchers carried out the same experiment in a supermarket. The played several different types of music, either at high or low volume and recorded customer purchases in each phase. They got the same results as the previous study.
In a third experiment, they tested quiet, loud, and no music at all in a room, and each type’s influence on the food choices of 71 college students. Classical music was selected and played at 55-70 decibels. After a few minutes, the students were offered a choice of fruit salad or chocolate cake. When exposed to loud music, students chose the chocolate cake 44% of the time. When no music was playing, around half chose the cake. When soft music played, however, students chose the cake only 14% of the time. More fascinating still, the genre didn’t matter. The same experiment was played with loud or quiet heavy metal music, and researchers got the same results. Thereby proving one of the coolest finds in the research: influence lies with volume, not genre.
Why this pattern emerges is interesting. USF scientists believe it all surrounds relaxation. When high volume music or noise fills a space, this excites a person, which persuades them to make more exciting and less healthy choices. By contrast, low volume music tends to make a person feel relaxed, which is more conducive to healthy ones. USF researchers hope this will allow people to be cognizant of their surroundings and make better choices, regardless of what’s on the sound system.
Music played at loud volume can influence us to make unhealthy food choices, regardless of genre. Image credit: Getty Images.
This isn’t the first study on how background music can affect diet. Previous research has shown that loud music played in a restaurant increases soda and alcohol consumption, and slow-tempo music leads to longer stays and higher beverage orders. Oxford University professor Charles Spence, Ph.D., has gone one step farther. Through his research, he's discovered that particular types of music can bring out certain flavors in the food. “You can play specific types of music to sonically season a dish,” he told Weight Watchers.
Certain genres tease out sweetness, bitterness, spiciness, and so on. “One cafe just opened up in Vietnam where they play only sweet music—think tinkling, high-pitched piano or wind chimes,” Spence said. “The idea is that they’ll be able to add a little less sugar to their cakes and drinks.” The takeaway of all this is that the human brain is noticing and therefore influenced by all types of things in our environment, whether we’re aware of it or not. The more we come to understand these hidden influences, the more we’ll be able to steer ourselves in the right direction.
Want to learn more about how music affects your brain? Click here:
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.