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The Forbidden Chocolate

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We all know the theory, if something is good but you are warned to not consume it, sometimes, it can be very attractive to do just that. And chocolate, while in no way a menace to society, has now proven to be the kind of temptation that if someone warns you against it, you are very likely to want to eat it. This is according to a new UK-Australian study led by professor Kevin Durkin at the University of Strathclyde, which published their latest findings in the journal “Appetite.”  The results shed new light on impulses that can be brought on by negative messaging, in this case, regarding the impact of warnings that say chocolate can cause obesity.

The contrary effect of a warning that results in desire is known as “reactance.”  In their study, which focused on women, they found that non-dieting eaters (also known as non-restrained) were more likely to consume chocolate after being warned with phrases like “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.”  Women who dieted, on the other hand, were less effected by negative messaging.  They were, however, influenced by ads that showed thin models consuming chocolate.  As professor Durkin explains it, “Among participants with high restraint, those exposed to the thin model consumed significantly more chocolate, while model size didn’t have any real impact on those with low restraint.”

So what does it all mean?  It seems that both negative messages and the use of thin images, although cliché at this point in commercial history, still have a significant effect.  Even though we could and should all know better after many generations of nonstop advertisements telling us different things about what we should consume and shouldn’t, many of those old practices still have an effect. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Now don’t go eat chocolate after reading this!

Source: Australasian Science

Photo: p3nnylan3 / flickr

Reference: Durkin, K., Hendry, A., & Stritzke, W. (2013). Mixed selection. Effects of body images, dietary restraint, and persuasive messages on females’ orientations towards chocolate Appetite, 60, 95-102 DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.09.025

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