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Saving the Best for Last

Most people like chocolate in one form or another. Whether it is dark, milk, or white, people usually do enjoy what they taste. But if they eat a lot of it, which one will they like the most? According to a new study by the Association for Psychological Science and University of Michigan psychologist Ed O’Brien, research shows that people will enjoy their last piece of chocolate, the best. O’Brien said that “endings affect us in lots of ways, and one is this ‘positivity effect.’”

Image Credit: PsychologyFace.com

Image Credit: PsychologyFace.com

O’Brien’s research team also wanted to find out if this “last is the best” notion rings true in other unimportant things such as ice cream, potato chips, and soda. The research said that in fact it does. O’Brien said that this is true because “when you simply tell people something is the last, they may like that thing more.”

During the study, 52 students were told they were going to taste five different kinds of locally-made Hershey’s kisses. After each taste test, they rated it from 1-10. Some of the participants were told, “This is the next one,” before every trial. Another group of participants were told the same thing, except at the fifth and final taste trial, they were told that “This is the last one.” The results showed that more of the participants liked the fifth chocolate best when it was designated as “the last chocolate” compared to when it was a part of an old-fashioned taste test. Also, 64 percent of the sample enjoyed the designated “last” chocolate the best, no matter what the randomized flavor was. In comparison, only 22 percent enjoyed the fifth chocolate the best as it was described as the next chocolate.

O’Brien said that there are a few theories behind the “last” chocolate being the favorite among the sample: firstly, it is motivational. He said that in many cases, people want to “reap the benefits of this experience even though it’s going to end” and also to get something out of it at the end. O’Brien also said that another theory is that most people like happy endings, no matter if it is in a movie or a piece of chocolate. He also said that this research could have implications in the academic world, where professors could now expect better grades from their students during the final exam.

by Scott Sincoff

Monday, February 27th, 2012 at 18:57
  • Ian Caldicott
    Mar 1st, 2012 at 17:34 | #1

    I am sure advertising companies did this research 20 years ago and just never made it public. Go to any taste test conducted as part of a marketing campaign and the one they are shilling for is always the last one they give you.

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