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Vanilla yogurt will make you feel happy, says research

vanilla yogurt

A spoonful of vanilla yogurt is the answer to your morning pick-me-up. Being pleasantly surprised or disappointed by the taste of something can alter our mood, a new study suggests.

A new research published in the journal Food Research International suggests being nicely surprised or disappointed by the taste of something can alter our mood.

Although, there is a growing belief that taste and aroma of food substances influences our decision on picking it from the shelves, scientists did not know how to measure it authentically.

vanilla yogurt

A team of researchers from Netherlands, Austria and Finland set out to discover this phenomenon. They decided to observe emotional effects people had after having different flavors of yogurts.

The team found that consuming vanilla yogurt made people happy, while a stronger positive emotional response was achieved by consuming yogurts with lower fat content. Findings also showed that although people exhibited different degree of enjoyment while consuming the yogurts, the variation of fruits did not play a part in their emotional effect.

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vanilla yogurt

“We were surprised to find that by measuring emotions, we could get information about products independent from whether people like them,” said lead study author, Dr. Jozina Mojet, from Food & Biobased Research, in the Netherlands.

Dr. Jozina believes this type of information could be really valuable to the manufacturers, which will give them an idea about how we subconsciously retort to a product.

Studies done in the past were heavily language-based, which suggested people failed to implicitly express their feelings, because they were fixated explicitly on the food or the aroma.

vanilla yogurt

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For the latest study, the researchers used four different techniques to evaluate emotional responses of people, and to ascertain what emotional effects people had while eating different flavors of yogurts. The four methods used were: 1. Face reading while eating, 2. A new test called Emotive Projection Test (EPT), 3. An autobiographical reaction time test, and 4. Eye-tracking.

The researchers recruited 3 groups of at least 24 participants. Each was given a pair of yogurts to taste, which were of the same brand and were similarly marketed, but their flavors and fat content varied.

EPT involved showing participants photographs of other people asking them to rate those people in the photographs on 6 positive and 6 negative characteristics before and after consuming the yogurt.

The eye-tracking test was used to assess the food packaging. It was aimed at characterizing gazing behavior and visual attraction of stimuli.

Face-reading test results were hampered due to technical glitches.

The autobiographical test results were not significant.

However, the other tests produced fascinating results. The team discovered that liking a product or being familiar with it did not affect a person’s emotion. In fact, emotions were affected by changes in perspective to the food after tasting it. The individuals’ moods were influenced by being pleasantly surprised or discouraged about the food.

vanilla yogurt

The researchers also examined the sensory effect of the yogurts. No differences were observed in the emotional reactions to strawberry against pineapple yogurts, however the low-fat kinds resulted in more upbeat emotional responses.

Most conspicuous was the fact that vanilla yogurt evoked a strong positive emotional response, which supports previous evidence that indistinct vanilla fragrances in places such as hospital waiting  rooms can reduce hostility and uplift relationships between patients and staff.

The researchers believe the new method could be a powerful way to gather information about new products before launching them in the market.

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Salahuddin Ahmed is a freelance medical writer and blogger, who has been writing about medicine and health for more than a decade. A former New York transplant, he now lives in his native Dhaka. He received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Louisiana and a diploma on eTechnology from NIIT, Dhaka. A voracious eater, Salahuddin only dines at restaurants that offer free refills on rice.

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