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Comfort Food Fallacy

November 2, 2009

Peoples’ tastes may turn toward the exotic during times of emotional upheaval in their lives.


Forswearing the familiar…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

It’s a common belief that people turn to familiar comfort foods during periods of upheaval in their lives. But new research suggests our palates may actually become more adventurous during these stressful times. Consumer behavior scientist Stacy Wood of the University of South Carolina had people choose between a familiar American snack and a similar but unfamiliar British product. Surprisingly, those who rated their current level of turmoil as high were more likely to choose the unfamiliar snack. Further studies showed that people undergoing change also sought more novelty in the movies they watched and in their musical tastes.

STACY WOOD (University of South Carolina):
When we are in a situation of change, a lot of our old habits and ways of making choices are uprooted. So in that situation, people may be more prone to give new options a chance.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.