By now those of you who read my blogs probably realize I like to read up on, and discuss little known studies. The one I chose today was titled: “Popcorn Amnesia.” Research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology presents data from a study conducted by psychologists at the University of Cologne.
A number of German test subjects were sent to a movie and shown commercials typical of the ones that often run prior to the start of main features. Half of the participants were given a bag of popcorn, the other half a sugar cube. One week later the people who ate the sugar cube had a clear recollection of the advertisements they’d seen while the popcorn eaters didn’t.
Following a series of similar tests researchers determined it wasn’t the popcorn, but the chewing itself that blocked out the visual repetition commercials depend on to attract buyers to their products. A subsequent study involved half of the subjects being given chewing gum and half without. This group was presented a series of nonsense words. At a later date the group chewing the gum had much less recall of the words they’d seen than did the non-gum-chewing group. Early advertisers worked on the premise that people connected through simple visual effect. New marketers are thinking that may not be true. More than mere exposure, it may pay to repeat the name of the product over and over in order to catch people between bites.
If, like I did at first, your thought is these studies are silly and have no value to your life, these researchers really do make some points.
For instance when a person reads something they need to absorb for a presentation or their career, or in the case of students studying for a test, it’s common to snack while reading. The researchers think a person would understand more of what they’ve read if they put off eating until after they finish reading something they hope to retain. Researchers say there are increasingly more settings in which people are trying to learn while eating. Consider the working breakfast, a client dinner, or lunch eaten at one’s desk while catching up on email.
One of the popcorn study’s authors, a neuroscientist at the university believes the act of chewing keeps someone from the covert simulation process of the mind repeating what the eye sees. He says chewing monopolizes the speech muscles effectively drowning out the process of familiarization.
So what do you think? Do you agree that crunching popcorn throws up roadblocks in your brain?