Ah food research. What won't you tell us about ourselves that we kind of already know. Remember that study that revealed you can eat less when you eat with a bigger utensil? Or the one that also came to a similar conclusion about smaller plates? Now researchers at USC have noticed that if you use your non-dominant hand, you'll tend to pay more attention to what you eat.
The study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, goes even further and suggests that we overeat because we're just creatures of habit.
Here's how they came to their conclusions: Before sending their test subjects into a theater to watch a movie, they gave them popcorn. One group received freshly popped popcorn; the other got stale week-old popcorn. Later, it was observed that those who said that they usually ate popcorn at the movies consumed about the same amount of popcorn regardless of whether it was was stale or fresh. The implication is this: those who are in the habit of eating popcorn at the movies didn't care whether the popcorn was good or bad; they ate it anyway.
When they did the same experiment, but changed the venue to a meeting room, a place where people don't usually eat popcorn, people were less inclined to enjoy the stale popcorn.
The study's lead author elaborated it this way:
“When we've repeatedly eaten a particular food in a particular environment, our brain comes to associate the food with that environment and make us keep eating as long as those environmental cues are present. People believe their eating behavior is largely activated by how food tastes. Nobody likes cold, spongy, week-old popcorn. But once we've formed an eating habit, we no longer care whether the food tastes good. We'll eat exactly the same amount, whether it's fresh or stale.”