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Appetite. 2012 Oct;59(2):349-56. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.05.026. Epub 2012 May 29.

Demand characteristics, pre-test attitudes and time-on-task trends in the effects of chewing gum on attention and reported mood in healthy volunteers.

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Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, 63 Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AS, United Kingdom.


Previous research has indicated that chewing gum enhances reported alertness, but has variable effects on attention. Demand characteristics may explain these effects. The current study investigated the effects of gum and demand characteristics on attention and reported mood over time. Participants completed measures of mood and attention, with and without chewing gum. To manipulate demand characteristics, they were told that the hypothesised effect of gum was either positive or negative, or no hypothesis was mentioned. Attitudes towards gum were assessed pre- and post-manipulation. Gum increased reported alertness; this effect was only significant for positive and neutral demand characteristics. Vigilance accuracy was reduced for chewing gum, but only in the fourth minute of the task, and gum reduced focussed attention accuracy, but only for the first 64 trials. Demand characteristics did not moderate time-on-task effects. Gum improved selective attention. A positive effect on response organisation was observed; this was significant when demand characteristics and pre-test attitudes to gum were both negative. The results suggest that demand characteristics moderate effects on self-reported alertness and response organisation, but cannot explain time-on-task effects or variable main effects on other aspects of attention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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