Have you ever eaten something every day for a long period of time, and then one day decided you never wanted to have that food again?
Or, perhaps you’ve had a song stuck in your head on repeat for so many days in a row that you swear that you never want to hear that song ever again?
Or, maybe you’ve tried numerous healthy eating plans in an effort to lose weight, but fell off the wagon after a few days because you couldn’t stomach eating the same diet meals day after day?
We have all experienced this feeling, but there is an actual technical term for it, called satiation.
In a clever group of experiments, researchers at the University of Minnesota’s School of Management may have found a way to overcome satiation by eliminating something called ‘variety amnesia.’ Best of all, this news may help you stay on track with any food plan you choose.
The researchers conducted three tests using different satiation triggers, including: a close friend, a favorite candy flavor, and the chorus of a favorite song.
I will not go over all three studies as they were all similar in structure, so below is how the “favorite song” study went down…
Fifty students picked his or her own favorite song, and a clip was made for each person, on average about 30 seconds long, and it consisted of just the song’s chorus.
The goal was to make the student grow sick of hearing the same song over and over, so they made each person listen to their clip 20 times in a row! After each listen, the student would rate the clips on a 101 point favorability scale.
Not surprisingly, as time went on the favorability rating dropped. Starting at an average of 78, after 20 listens the clips were rated at an average of 35. This is a 50% decrease in enjoyment after just 30 minutes or so of repeated play!
Three weeks later, the same students were brought back to the lab and randomly split into two groups.
One group was asked to recall all the television shows that they had watched during the previous three weeks. (The Control)
The second group was asked to recall all the music they had listened to in the past three weeks. (The Experiment)
Then, all of the participants listened to their chosen songs (from the earlier part of the experiment) one more time. They were then asked how much they desired to listen to the full version of that song again.
The control group (that was asked to recall TV shows) expressed much less interest in listening to the song – they were still satiated. They ranked the song at 45.
However, the music-recall group expressed a much greater interest in listening to their previously tired-of song choice. They ranked the song at 69. This is because subjects were reminded of the variety in the same category in which they were experiencing satiation.
In short, it was the recall of previous experiences in a similar category, in this case, music, that helped relieve the variety amnesia.
A second trial, with jellybeans, further proved that the recalling of similar experiences had to be within the same category (food) to help end the satiation with the target food (jelly beans).
In other words, people become satiated with a particular item because they forget about the other varieties of that item that they have enjoyed in the past.
Therefore, by recalling some of your past experiences with items of the same type, you can more easily get over your satiation of a target item.
Why Does This Matter?
Some things you do repetitively can be good for you. Eating the same healthy breakfast, staying with the same partner, etc…
So, for example, if you feel like you’re getting tired of your partner, recall all the partners and dates you have ever had. This will help eliminate the satiation caused by the variety amnesia.
Lastly, if you are drinking diet shakes or eating prepared meals, perhaps simply thinking of all of the decadent meals you recently had, or other drinks you’ve had, will help you to stay on track with your current program.
I’d love to hear what you all think, so comment below.
Galak, Jeff, Joseph P. Redden, and Justin Kruger. “Variety Amnesia: Recalling Past Variety Can Accelerate Recovery from Satiation.” Journal of Consumer Research. December 2009, Volume 36: 575-584.