We all see them, a lot of us hate them: Shots of the food somebody you follow is about to eat. Thankfully there are few photos of the end result posted, but often the photos are less than appealing, and the practice is widely reviled as annoying. So why do people do it? Because it makes your food taste better.
Well, actually, any ritual will make the food taste better. It’s just that Instagramming your food is a popular ritual in particular. Some scientists lay it all out:
…participants who engaged in ritualized behavior, compared with those who did not, evaluated chocolate as more flavorful, valuable, and deserving of behavioral savoring. Experiment 2 demonstrated… a delay between a ritual and the opportunity to consume heightens enjoyment. Experiment 3 found that performing a ritual oneself enhances consumption more than watching someone else perform the same ritual… Rituals enhance the enjoyment of consumption because of the greater involvement in the experience that they prompt.
In other words, in pretentious New Age jerkwad terms, performing some sort of ritual before eating your food puts you “in the moment,” heightening your perception of the food and how it tastes. True, any ritual will do, but stop and think about it for a minute. This explains all those damn food photos.
Somebody takes an Instagram photo of their food the first time, and then eats it. They may not consciously notice a difference, but they’ll notice it on some level. That creates an incentive, and a powerful one, to keep performing the ritual. So, they keep doing it, the food tastes better, the behavior is reinforced, and on and on.
See, this is science at its best: Explaining our annoying behaviors to us. So, uh, guys… any chance of figuring out how to make it stop?
(Image courtesy of Salim Virji on Flickr)