It's usually easy to judge others and tell them what not to eat. When it comes to ourselves, majority of people is not able to be so critical. Unless we sit in front of the mirror. That's when we can see the choice we make the way as if we observed others. Does such change really influence the choice of food we make?
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In order to check the influence of mirror on human behaviour and feelings in the dining room, Dr Ata Jami did an experiment at the University of Central Florida.
The assumption was based on the theory of self-awareness. To make it simple, it's about the fact that when we see ourselves in the mirror reflexion or at a picture, we are forced to think about what we are doing and why we are doing it. People who see their relfexion or picture are less prone to cheat in tests. They also follow the impulses, e.g. sexual, much more rarely.
The subject of the study was to check if eating fast food or unhealthy foodstuffs is less pleasant for people who eat it in front of a mirror.
Alltogether, there were four experiments. Two of them concerned serving either chocolate cake or dried fruit. One part of the volunteers was randomly ascribed with the cake or fruit, the other part had to choose between those two products. Finally, the other group was also randomly ascribed with either fruit or cake. However, being able to choose occurred to be the key factor.
The participants who chose the cake gave low marks. Whereas, those who chose fruit, but got the cake, gave high marks. To sum up, only those who chose the cake and ate it in front of the mirror assessed this activity as not so pleasant.
According to the scientist, the awareness of wrong choice makes us feel uncomfortable. We tend to put the blame on what we see. People who took part in the test were asked to pay attention to the taste of what they ate. At the moment when guilt came, the taste was assessed as worse than before.
Dr Ata Jami also did a test with the addition of music. This procedure transferred the anxiety of the volunteers on another element and made them assess the cake as tasty.
Unfortunately, the test was only aimed at the emotions caused by food and how bad we feel when eating unhealthy cake while observing it in the mirror. However, the amount of eaten product was not measured. As you know, anxiety may force us eat even more food.
Another matter is that it's not necesarily the unhealthy food eaten in front of the mirror that causes remorse, but eating things that are considered as unhealthy. The matter of assessing of what's healthy and what is not, is rarely clear.
Third of all, the scientists are not certain about the influence of the mirror on people eating meals including various elements, e.g. a hamburger and a salad. Does the mirror influence the perception of the taste of the hamburger or the salad? Or maybe the hamburger and the salad?
To sum up, The results of the research showed that people who ate chocolate cake in a room with the mirror marked its taste lower than those who ate it in different conditions. The mirror lets people assess their own behaviour, just like they assess others when they see what they are doing. It causes discomfort when eating unhealthy meals. It only happens when we consider the meals we eat as unhealthy.