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Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

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Advice columnist Carolyn Hax took questions live.

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Posted at 02:28 PM ET, 07/27/2011

Psychologist Paul Bloom on the source of pleasure

It’s that time of the day again — time for the afternoon pick-u-up.

In his July TED talk, psychologist and Yale professor Paul Bloom says that what we know about the origin of a person or object changes the way we experience it.

Taste, for example, depends on what you think you’re eating. The way you enjoy dinner at a five-star restaurant is not the same as the way you enjoy a fast food meal. But what if you unknowingly ate a five-star hamburger at a fast food franchise? Would you appreciate it the same way? You probably wouldn’t, argues Bloom. In support of this, Bloom featured a study, which found that children were more willing to eat carrots and drink milk when they thought they were from McDonald’s, since they already associated McDonald’s with food they enjoyed eating, such as hamburgers and french fries.

The same behavior can be seen in adults, Blooms says. One study showed that participants thought cheaper wine in a bottle marked with a well-known and expensive label was much better than it actually was. When placed into an fMRI scan, scientists could see increased activity in the area of the brain associated with pleasure and reward.

All of these are interesting points to consider, especially for those who are thinking about how to sell a new product or invention.

By Frank Yonkof and  |  02:28 PM ET, 07/27/2011

Categories:  Research, Video, The Lunch Break

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