Feel free to download and use any of the graphics, illustrations, videos, and resources on the page for educational purposes and with credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Previous research has focused on food choice decisions that determine what we eat, but much less research has been dedicated towards how much we eat. There are many environmental factors which consistently influence eating behavior, such as the number of food items in an assortment, the eating behavior of a dining companion, and the size of plates, packages, serving bowls and even pantries. These environmental factors can be as powerful as the taste of a food itself in determining intake. People tend to focus on their food choices, but overlook their consumption volume, which leads to unmonitored, unintended overeating in which consumers consistently underestimate their caloric consumption. We have uncovered two mindless eating myths, the first being that people know how much they want to eat. However, our experiments indicated otherwise: 62 MBA students who sat through a 90–minute class explaining that if presented with a one–gallon bowl of Chex Mix, they would serve and eat more than if presented with two half–gallon bowls. Despite this lesson, the students who served themselves from the one–gallon bowl served 53% more and ate 59% more and did not believe the size of the serving bowls influenced their behavior. The second mindless eating myth is that people know when they are full, but a study of 150 Chicagoans and Parisians revealed otherwise, that Americans are more likely to use external, environmental cues to determine when they are done eating, rather than cues of internal satiety. People eat more with their eyes than with their stomachs, and they do not even realize it. In a pilot study, 1,000 visitors to a weight–loss website were randomly assigned to make three small behavior changes. We found that using these heuristics, participants lost an average of 1.16 pounds/month. Increasing wellness requires changing one's personal environment and that future research should focus on what types of heuristics are most effective in reducing mindless eating.
Wansink, Brian, David R. Just, and Collin R. Payne (2009). Mindless Eating and Healthy Heuristics for the Irrational. American Economic Review, 99(2), 165–69. doi: 10.1257/aer.99.2.165