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Appetite. 2009 Feb;52(1):27-33. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2008.07.002. Epub 2008 Jul 10.

Emotion and food. Do the emotions expressed on other people's faces affect the desire to eat liked and disliked food products?

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  • 1Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale et Cognitive, UMR 6024 CNRS, 34 Avenue Carnot, 63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France.


The aim of the present study was to test if pleasure, neutrality and disgust expressed by other individuals on a photograph could affect the desire to eat liked or disliked food products. Forty-four men and women were presented with two series of photographs. The first series of photographs was composed of six food photographs: three liked and three disliked food products. The second series consisted of the same photographs presented with eaters expressing three different emotions: disgust, pleasure or neutrality. Results showed that the effect of the presence of an eater, and of emotions expressed by this eater, depended on the food category. For the liked foods, the desire to eat was higher when these foods were presented alone than with an eater expressing neutral emotion. When the eater expressed pleasure, the desire to eat these liked foods did not significantly increase. In contrast, when the eater expressed disgust, the desire to eat them significantly decreased. When the foods were disliked, the influence of the pleasant social context was stronger than for the liked foods. The desire to eat the disliked foods actually increased in the presence of an eater expressing pleasure. On the contrary, the disgust and neutral context had no effect on the desire for disliked foods.

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