Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NaBloPoMo 18 of 30

Yesterday on the way to pick up the boys (and shortly after writing about my inability to resist between-meal snacks) I was listening, as usual, to the radio. They were interviewing a social scientist at some university somewhere in the world, and he was describing his research. He gathered many people, and told them that to participate in the experiment they would be given a number on a slip of paper which they were to memorize. Each person got a unique number, which they kept to themselves. Half of the people were given a 3-digit number, and the other half were given a 7-digit number. Once they had it committed to memory, they had to walk down the hall to another room and recite their number.

On the way to the second room, a woman stopped them in the hall and explained that as a ‘thank you’ for helping with the research, they were invited to pause and have a snack before going on to the second room. They were offered either a piece of rich chocolate cake, or a bowl of fresh fruit.

Now you are probably thinking that the food chosen would influence their ability to remember the number after they were done eating. That the 3-digit people would still remember, but the 7-digit people might not. That’s where I thought they were going with this. Turns out that is not.

The actual research was on which snack the participants selected. And the findings were so striking that there is basically no refuting them.

Pretty much everyone with a 3-digit number took the fruit, and pretty much everyone with a 7-digit number took the cake.

The analysis?

Your brain has two parts – the rational and the emotional. The emotional part of your brain is rooting for chocolate, the rational part of your brain reminds you that fruit is healthier.

But. Distract rational-brain with a 7-digit number, and emotional-brain wins!

So CLEARLY my life is such that I am always thinking so hard that poor rational-brain has no chance. Emotional-brain is firmly in control.

It’s not my fault.


Calandria said...

Okay, so now we've figured out why your house is cluttery (you're liberal) and why you can't resist chocolate (thinking too much). So the question is, would you give up your liberal beliefs for a tidy house or your massive, constant thoughts for a smaller waist? :-)

Karen ~ said...

LOL - I am thinking tomorrow I need to post on my apparent need for finding excuses for my own behavior in an attempt to rationalize my weight and messy house :-) Surely there is some psychological study out there which can offer insight!!! I just have to FIND it.

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