Thought for food: imagined consumption reduces actual consumption.

Published on Dec 10, 2010in Science41.845
· DOI :10.1126/SCIENCE.1195701
Carey K. Morewedge27
Estimated H-index: 27
(CMU: Carnegie Mellon University),
Young Eun Huh6
Estimated H-index: 6
(CMU: Carnegie Mellon University),
Joachim Vosgerau15
Estimated H-index: 15
(CMU: Carnegie Mellon University)
The consumption of a food typically leads to a decrease in its subsequent intake through habituation—a decrease in one’s responsiveness to the food and motivation to obtain it. We demonstrated that habituation to a food item can occur even when its consumption is merely imagined. Five experiments showed that people who repeatedly imagined eating a food (such as cheese) many times subsequently consumed less of the imagined food than did people who repeatedly imagined eating that food fewer times, imagined eating a different food (such as candy), or did not imagine eating a food. They did so because they desired to eat it less, not because they considered it less palatable. These results suggest that mental representation alone can engender habituation to a stimulus.
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