The Psychology of Desserts

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The Psychology of Desserts

Why there’s always room for dessert.

We know we’ve all experienced the feeling of being ‘full to the brim’ after your main course, maybe even having to undo the top button of your pants. However, at the mention of dessert, you are no longer full. Well, now there’s a scientific explanation for why there’s always room for dessert, the so-called “dessert stomach” phenomenon.

Several studies have looked at why people have this magical capacity to always find room for dessert. They all came to the same conclusion, a phenomenon known as sensory-specific satiety.

Sensory specific satiety is a reduced desire for already consumed foods compared to non-consumed meals with different sensory properties, such as flavour, texture, and appearance.

In short, dessert is the only part of the meal that we have yet to try and the anticipation of a new flavour experience creates appetite. Desserts have sensory properties different from the main dish, so being full and feeling satisfied are two very different things.

So there is such a thing as a dessert stomach!

Eating dessert first can be good for your diet.

Wasn’t it everyone’s childhood dream to eat dessert first? Well, it turns out studies have shown that eating dessert before the main meal can have positive physiological and psychological benefits.

According to a new study published by the Journal of Experimental Psychology, having dessert first, rather than following the main meal (as we all do) is associated with eating fewer calories. Many studies have concluded that people consistently made healthier meal choices and consumed fewer calories when they indulged in dessert first. The dessert did not even have to be consumed for them to make healthier choices but simply knowing they had chosen a sweeter option was enough to make a psychological difference.

The moderate indulgence of desserts may also aid in preventing sugar binges. Deprivation has been proven to trigger cravings, leading to people eating more of their forbidden foods. So a little serving of dessert can actually help you kick your goals of reducing your sugar intake overall. – at least initially.

A sweet tooth means a sweeter personality.

Is having a desire for sweets associated with being friendly and welcoming? According to new research, there may be a correlation between flavour preferences and personality.

Every day, we are exposed to many different flavours and we use these taste descriptors to characterise an individual and their personality. Studies have been researching whether metaphors that relate taste preferences to pro-social experiences, for example, “she’s a sweetie,” may be used to reveal genuine qualities and characteristics.

People believe that a person who enjoys sweet things like sweets or chocolate cake (as opposed to items from the other four taste categories) is more agreeable or helpful. Researchers from Universities in Pennsylvania, Chicago and North Dakota supported this hypothesis through their findings in several trials. Concluding that people who ate a piece of chocolate versus a non-sweet food or no food at all were more likely to volunteer and help another person in need.


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Posted: 9 March 2022 In: In the Media section