04/25/2014 10:55 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

6 Psych Experiments That Shed Light on Your Eating and Drinking Habits


When they're not devoting important hours to proving the five-second rule, scientists are finding new, inventive ways to explain why you dine the way you do. Through studies involving coke-addled rats and marked-up wines, they've found all sorts of reasons for your bizarre food habits. Remember: It's not your fault you ate a sleeve of Oreos. It's your brain's!

Here are six of the most interesting studies we've come across:

People with food self-control are smarter, better than you

Even before they were messing with a bunch of pretend prisoners, the psych department at Stanford was busy tormenting hungry children. The '60s "marshmallow experiment" aimed to measure willpower by offering kids a marshmallow or similar snack upfront OR two treats, provided they could wait 15 minutes. The researcher would then leave the current test kid in a room with the marshmallow and see if they could resist the allure of Jet-Puffed until the clock ran out. Those who did grew up to be more well-adjusted teens with higher SAT scores and fewer drug problems. Which brings us to our next study...


Oreos are as addictive as crack

Thanks for telling us what we already knew, science! Just last year, a team at Connecticut College got a bunch of lab rats, Oreos, and cocaine, and set off for Vegas. Actually, they set up two mazes. The first maze had Oreos at one end and rice cakes on the other; the second promised an injection of saline on one side and an injection of morphine/cocaine at the other. After they had received their prize, the rats could choose to linger as long as they liked, presumably in the hopes of seconds they would never get. Turns out the rodents waited just as desperately around the Oreo den as they did the coke one, squeaking angrily about their jerk dealers in between twitches.

More: Science basically insists you drink a bottle of wine a day

Loud music makes people drink faster

According to Professor Nicolas Gueguen, cranking the bar's jukebox will make everyone pound their brews quicker. Gueguen and his colleagues observed patrons of French bars drinking at a normal volume of 72dB versus a louder 88dB over three Saturday nights. They found that people drank an 8oz glass of beer an average three minutes faster under the higher volume setting, and even faster than that if the bar was playing Nickelback.

We've still got plenty more psych experiments on, including why no one wants to order the same thing when you're eating out, why everyone is subconsciously a wine snob, and why Pepsi will always win taste tests!

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