Eating popcorn


Are you tired of eating alone? Why not try dining with your mirror image?

Your food will taste better, according to a recent cognitive science study.

A team of scientists at Nagoya University’s Graduate School of Information Science carried out an eating experiment with 32 people aged between 20 and 74.

The subjects were each asked to eat salted popcorn and caramel-flavoured popcorn for 90 seconds alone in small rooms.

Then they were asked to compare the taste of the popcorn when eating with a mirror in front of them.

Eating alone vs. eating in front of a mirror


Both test groups gave higher points to the popcorn they ate in front of a mirror.

The portion of the popcorn they ate was also 5 to 13% greater, regardless of flavour or age group, when in front of a mirror.

According to the team led by Nagoya University researcher Ryuzaburo Nakata and associate professor Nobuyuki Kawai, the phenomenon of performing better in company than alone is called “social facilitation”.

People typically consume more when eating with someone than when eating by themselves.

The latest study reveals that the same social facilitation effect can also occur with a person’s own reflection in the mirror.

Quality of life

Eating popcorn

The team plans to study whether the same effect can be achieved in different environments such as in hospitals.

It also plans to examine the causal relationship between the phenomenon and the people’s everyday lives.

“More people are eating alone,” says Nakata.

“And, especially for elderly people living on their own, meals can become troublesome and they often develop malnutrition.

“I hope this research helps people increase their quality of life.”

The team’s study was published recently in the science journal Physiology & Behavior and reported in Japan’s daily newspaper, The Mainichi.


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