Though there are many things to brag about over social media, one of the most popular seems to be dinner. Pictures of well-prepared meals grace the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds of almost anyone with a social media account. However, a new study shows that those same pics could be ruining the enjoyment of those foods for friends and followers.
The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, determined that over-exposure to images of food can actually increase satiation. In other words, looking at Instagram food pics can make people enjoy those types of foods less, as if they have already eaten the food on display.
"In a way, you're becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food," said Ryan Elder, a co-author of the study and a marketing professor at Brigham Young University (BYU). "It's sensory boredom – you've kind of moved on. You don't want that taste experience anymore."
The study looked at 232 people, asking each to rate pictures of food. At the end of the test, participants were given peanuts to eat, and then asked to rate their peanut-eating enjoyment. Those who were shown pictures of salty foods ranked their enjoyment lower than those who were shown pictures of sweet foods.
The study's authors stated that the effect grows stronger the more pictures of food are viewed, and that a significant number of pictures must be viewed for the effect to be observed. They also suggest, however, that people with an affinity for unhealthy foods could use the effect to their advantage by spending time gazing at junk food.
"If you want to enjoy your food consumption experience, avoid looking at too many pictures of food," said Jeff Larson, the other co-author of the study and a marketing professor at BYU. "Even I felt a little sick to my stomach during the study after looking at all the sweet pictures we had."
(Image courtesy Josh Wolford)