Enhanced Auditory Arousal Increases Intake of Less Palatable and Healthier Foods

  •  Gregory Privitera    
  •  Melissa Diaz    
  •  Meagan Haas    


Two experiments were conducted to test a prediction of the arousal hypothesis that increased arousal will increase intake of less palatable and healthy foods. In both experiments, arousal was manipulated by adjusting the volume of a movie (soft, loud volume) while participants consumed foods. In Experiment 1, participants ate fresh (palatable) or stale (less palatable) popcorn during a 9-minute movie played at a soft or loud volume. Experiment 2 used the same procedures with healthier foods (carrot sticks and apple slices). Partial support for the arousal hypothesis in Experiment 1 showed that participants consumed more stale but not fresh popcorn in the loud (high arousal) versus soft (low arousal) volume group. These findings suggest that low but not high palatable foods are susceptible to manipulations of arousal. Consistent with this interpretation, Experiment 2 showed that high but not low environmental arousal increased intake of the fruits and vegetables, which are typically rated as lower in palatability compared to high fat foods. These results show that high arousal in an eating-typical environment increases intake of less palatable foods, and healthy foods (i.e., fruits and vegetables). Increasing the availability of healthier foods in a loud food environment can have a positive impact on increasing intake of fruits and vegetables in that environment.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.