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Sadness and joy affect your taste buds

Emotions like joy and sorrow can change the way you taste things and so they’ll change what you eat. This was among the conclusions drawn by an experiment involving 80 people aged between 19 and 47 at the Julius-Maximilians-University in Würzburg, Germany. The researchers first evaluated the overall mood of each of the test persons with the aid of psychological assessments, focusing on whether or not they tended to slight depression (not clinical depression). Next the test persons were asked to evaluate the taste intensity of five different liquids (sweet, sour, bitter, umami, fatty) in five concentrations. Then the researchers showed the testees two-minute film clips with a funny, a sad and a neutral scene in order to evoke the corresponding emotions. Finally the testees were asked to perform the same type of taste evaluations as before.

Pessimists can’t tell fats apart

One interesting finding was that people who tended to be pessimistic were unable to distinguish between full-fat and low-fat milk if they had previously seen sad or funny film clips. Before the film clips and after viewing a neutral clip, these people had no problem differentiating between the two different fat concentrations. This could be an explanation of why some people eat more fatty snacks, like chips, than other people while they’re watching moving or funny scenes on television. It may be that if a person is in a negative mood their attention is more strongly engaged by the film, their control over their eating behaviour so that they eat without being aware that they’re eating and can easily eat too much. The researchers suggested that especially people suffering from light depression and weight problems could be especially affected.

Anxious people react more sensitively

Depressed or anxious testees evaluated bitter and sweet tastes more intensively than testees in a positive frame of mind. This could be because the former generally react more intensively to sensory input. The precise relationship between your state of mind, your emotions and your taste buds are not yet absolutely clear. More research is needed.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de