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Conscious Cogn. 2019 Apr;70:57-69. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2019.02.007. Epub 2019 Mar 5.

Coffee cues elevate arousal and reduce level of construal.

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Monash University, Australia. Electronic address:
University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada.


Coffee and tea are two beverages commonly-consumed around the world. Therefore, there is much research regarding their physiological effects. However, less is known about their psychological meanings. Derived from a predicted lay association between coffee and arousal, we posit that exposure to coffee-related cues should increase arousal, even in the absence of actual ingestion, relative to exposure to tea-related cues. We further suggest that higher arousal levels should facilitate a concrete level of mental construal as conceptualized by Construal Level Theory. In four experiments, we find that coffee cues prompted participants to see temporal distances as shorter and to think in more concrete, precise terms. Both subjective and physiological arousal explain the effects. We situate our work in the literature that connects food and beverage to cognition or decision-making. We also discuss the applied relevance of our results as coffee and tea are among the most prevalent beverages globally.


Arousal; Coffee and tea; Cognition; Construals; Food and beverage

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