CHOCOLATE may be a guilty pleasure, but it is the guilt that fuels our enjoyment, researchers say.
One might assume a woman’s enjoyment of sweet treats like chocolate would be marred by the depressing mantra, “a minute on the lips and a lifetime on the hips.”
But according to a new study, the very guilt associated with indulging in forbidden foods can in fact enhance women’s enjoyment of them.
Researchers found that the perception of the food as somehow “sinful” meant the woman was “primed” to take more pleasure in it.
When women know the food is not bad for them, they could find it less tasty as their “expectation of pleasure” is lowered beforehand, it was suggested.
In the study, the researchers split 40 women into two equal groups, one of which was shown healthy living magazines featuring images of people looking fit and slender.
The other group looked at magazines whose pictures did not relate to wellbeing.
When all 40 women were given a chocolate bar afterwards and asked to rate their enjoyment of it, those who had read the healthy living magazine said they liked the sweets 16% more than those who did not.
Lead researcher Kelly Goldsmith, of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago, said the findings showed that “experiencing
the emotion of guilt can increase pleasure”.
She said: “If you advertise your product as being ‘guilt-free’, what it could implicitly do is lower taste perception by lowering the expectation of pleasure. If you take the guilt out of it, people might not expect it to be as good.
“Let people benefit from the intrigue and pleasure and enjoy their experience more.”
But she also warned that more harmful guilty pleasures such as smoking and drinking could be affected by the same principle, the Daily Mail reported.