SPEAKER 1: This is a production of Cornell University.
BRIAN WANSINK: What a wonderful introduction. I like the part about Iowa too. Somebody else here from Iowa? Three people. How many people have ever driven through Iowa? How many people have ever flown over Iowa? Yeah, OK, yes. What I'm going to talk about today is Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. Now, in looking at this-- slide.
Rick, is there something I should do here? Aha. Even it needed a rest. Now, in looking at this, what I'm going to do is I'm going to focus on about two chapters of the book Mindless Eating. And we're just going to kind focus on those tonight and talk about this. And now, the word you're going to hear more than any other word tonight, other than food and eating, is the word we.
And we refers, as you heard earlier to the Food and Brand Lab. No, this is a group of interdisciplinary researchers that try to figure out why we do what we do. In reality, we sort of like food spies. We do experiments. And something that looks like this, it's largely-- it's the Food and Brand Lab. And what it looks-- it's a series of rooms that look like either kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms, dens, anywhere where you'd eat food.
It's probably exactly like you'd find your own home, if your own home had one way mirrors, hidden cameras, and scales underneath plates. So what we do is we bring people in here, and we'll change things like the lighting, or who they're eating with, what's on TV, or what we're serving them, or the color of plates. We look at how that unknowingly biases what they do, how much they eat, and how much they enjoy it.
And now, we're doing a bunch of other stuff too. Once we find out things work here, we typically take them into the real world and do things in restaurants. Or we do things in bars or places like this to see if what works in the lab actually works with real people. And we're actually-- we're just starting something. We're looking at hidden in-kitchen cameras. So what we're doing is we're taking these cameras-- and actually, people give us permission to do this.
We put them in people's homes. And these are motion activated cameras so that when a person comes in the room [SNAP] it starts recording. Person leaves, it stops. Now, if you had one of these in your house, do you think would influence what you do? Well, it would for two days, for two days. You find people kind of-- they think that are outside of the lens of the camera, and you just see them doing their hair.
And then they kind of-- they'll walk into the kitchen. You know, open the refrigerator take out an apple. What happens, after about two days, everybody forgets these things are there. So sometimes what you see people doing is, well, I can leave it up to your imagination after two days. But suffice to say, if anybody ever asks you if you want to be involved in a study involving hidden in-kitchen cameras, just say no. OK?
Now, it might be hard to kind of imagine what I mean when we talk about some of these studies. So let me give an example of a little clip that was on 20/20 just about a month or so ago. It shows the first part of one of these studies.
- You ever eat a whole bag of chips, and you're not even that hungry? Why? Well maybe there's something going on that you're not aware of. Finding out what it is could help change the shape [INAUDIBLE]. At Cornell University, diners head for lunch in what looks like a restaurant but is really a lab where--
BRIAN WANSINK: Warren Hall.
- --very reserved on what they eat. The diners are guinea pigs for research to uncover the secrets of our eating habits.
- Check out this test.
- You can take as much as you want.
- This lady tells test subjects, you can have a free meal if you simply rate the food for me.
- Then the man in the blue shirt, acting as a waiter says--
- Go ahead and get some water over there and I'll bring [INAUDIBLE].
- That's an excuse for him to take the plate and secretly weigh it-- there's a scale under that [? flowered cloth-- ?] before bringing it to the diner and then doing this unappetizing thing.
- [COUGHING] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
- That's gross.
- The diner, after [? dusk. ?]
- I'll get you another plate [INAUDIBLE] giving this to you.
- Then he ask them to take a second plate and serve themselves again. But the trick is that the second plate is bigger.
- This test is not about rating food. It's about whether people take less food when they have smaller plates. This woman thought she put more food in a smaller bowl.
- I actually noticed that I put more in a smaller pasta ball than I did in the larger plate.
- But the opposite was true. She and most everyone put 25% more food on the bigger plate.
- We're not aware of what we're eating?
- Well, it's amazing. We eat with our eyes, not with our stomach.
- Food psychology professor Brian Wansink runs the lab and has been doing this research. And now he's written up the result in a book aptly called Mindless Eating.
- We really don't pay much attention to what we eat or how much we eat.
- Well, I think I'm paying attention. I'm sure concentrating while I'm shoveling it in.
- Most people believe that we know when we're full. But we don't really know when we're full.
- So use small plates.
- Oh, absolutely Because these are mindless [INAUDIBLE]--
BRIAN WANSINK: OK. Here's what we're going to talk about today. I'm going to talk about three-- I'm going to start with three critical starting points related to mindless eating. We'll talk about three myths about eating, and why we think we know what we're doing and we might be wrong. And what I'm going to end up with-- some very easy ways to de-booby-trap your home, or your dorm room, or wherever you might be tempted to eat.
Now starting points are-- we make an average of about 250 eating decisions every day. Now, if you were to ask most of us how many eating decisions we make, we might go-- probably about 15 or 20. But in reality, even simply for breakfast you're not just deciding whether to have Fruit Loops or Fruity Pebbles. You're deciding whether to have half a bowl, or two-thirds of a bowl, or a second bowl.
You're deciding whether to have whole milk or skim milk, whether to put extra sugar on or not. How much to put on, whether to cut up a banana, whether to have a bagel or Pop Tart. You make about 20 decisions simply before you have your first bite of breakfast to eat. So that's one starting point. Because there are a lot of things around us that influence those 200 almost unknowing decisions. And anything that biases us this much can create a big cumulative effect of weight gain.
Second thing is we serve an average of 92% of what we eat-- so if you pour it, you're going to eat it. If you're serving the plate, you're going to eat it. And the last thing is about 70% of the people in North America who gain weight this year will gain less than two and a half pounds. Now to translate that into a day-to-day intake, two and a half pounds is the equivalent of eating one 25-calorie Hershey Kiss a day.
If you eat that every day for a year, you're going to weight two and a half pounds more. If you eat five M&M's a day, that's 25 calories, you eat six Tic-Tacs-- that's [? 200 ?] calories. If anything in your environment causes us to unknowingly make a bad food decision, or to over serve, it can have this compounded effect on weight.
So here's the first thing. It's myth number 1. And it goes back to that little study that we showed you up here. When we discovered that simply changing the size the bowl had this incredible influence on how much people ate, I was giving a talk at the Institute of Medicine down in Washington, DC about something else. But we'd just discovered that. I was so excited about that that I sort of parenthetically mentioned that in the talk.
And at the Institute of Medicine they have some incredibly esteemed people. And for some reason, every one of them has a British accent. And they could be from Omaha, but they'd have a British accent. And this gentleman says, when I'm finishing this parenthetically comment about the size the bowls, he goes, well surely a larger bowl couldn't possibly influence how much an intelligent, informed person eats.
Well, that's like throwing a gauntlet down. I mean, you have to do a study to examine that. And so, that's one thing we did. I took 60 very smart, very motivated graduate students and informed them about how the shape of the serving bowl, size of the serving bowl, would cause them to serve too much. In particular, for 90 minutes I just told them that if they serve themselves out of a gallon bowl of Chex mix, they are likely to take around 50% more than if the instead serve themselves out are two half-gallon bowls.
That is the lesson for 90 minutes. So I lectured on it, with did demonstrations, I showed videos. They broke into small groups to kind of figure out how they could stop this from happening. We did interpretive dances. We did everything. And so at the end of 90 minutes, these people were smart, motivated, and informed. For 90 minutes they were formed on one specific topic.
So they're probably never going to be influenced by bowls again in their life. Well, they went home for Christmas vacation. Six weeks later they come back, and I invite them to come to a Super Bowl party at a place called Jillian's. Has anybody ever-- it's a chain-- anybody every been to these places? They're like nice kind of sports bars with pool tables and stuff. And so, as they came into this place, they were led to one of two rooms.
One room had tables-- a table where they're given their little snack plates. And there's only one snack on the entire table. Guess what it was. Chex mix. And they're in gallon sized bowls. Now what happened, the person went ooh, Chex mix, filled up their plate. Got down to the end of the table, one of our researchers said, hey, do you mind if I just ask you a few questions?
And they go, no but I got to figure out a place to put my plate here. Look, there's a part of the table that doesn't have anything on it. Let me put it on that corner. Well now, as you can imagine under the table cloth in that corner there's a scale. So as soon as they put that down, it read off in the other room exactly how much Chex mix they'd taken.
Now, at the exact same time, what happened is the same thing was going on in the other room. But instead of having three big gallon sized bowls, there were twice as many, six half-gallon sized bowls where people served themselves. Now, after all the smoke cleared, what we found is that these very informed, very smart, very intelligent people-- if they were serving a gallon bowls-- too 53% more Chex mix than the people over here.
Now, you could say, ah they're 53% more. Big deal. Well, that's like about 270 calories. If you ate 270 calories more every day for a year, that would add up to about 27 extra pounds at the end of the year, simply because of the size of your serving bowl. And after the whole event was over and they were leaving, we did something. We stopped the people who served themselves out of these big bowls and said, hey, you know, you ate out of a gallon sized serving bowl.
You ended up serving over 50% more food and eating all of it. Did you think it was because of the size of the bowl? What do you think these people said? No. No, it had nothing to do with the bowl. Well then, why would everybody on average eat 50% more? They'd just say things like, I had a light lunch. Yeah, that's it. That's it. Yeah. You know, I didn't have breakfast yesterday. Yeah that was it. That's it too, right?
And this ends up being the power of these simple cues. Then it has this ubiquitous impact because most of us believe we're way too smart to be fooled by something as ridiculous as the size of a little bowl. Now, if you were take a group this size, and you were to say-- think of the last time you overate. Due to like dinner time? [LAUGHING] If I said, why did you overeat, what was going on that caused you to overeat, about 10% of you would give a reason that related to some sort of emotional thing.
Like you know, it was a really tough day, I got home, and whatever. Or I was real lonely, and so I ate a lot. But 90% of you would give one of two other reasons why you overate. You'd say, the last time I overate, I overate because I was really, really hungry. Or you'd say, the last time I overate is because the food was really, really good.
So for the most part, those end up being the two reasons most of us attribute overeating to. Feeling hungry, and the food being good. What I want to look at is what happens with these cues if we take someone who is not hungry and give them food that is not good. Will they still be influenced? So here's what we did.
We did this in a couple of places. One was a place outside of Chicago, Illinois called Prospect Heights. And the other place was outside of Philadelphia, called Easterville. But the basic study is this. You take people who are coming into a movie. This movie happened to be a movie called Payback. Anybody see that movie? OK, so we had a 168 people plus then the four of us.
So we took people who were coming to see this movie as a matinee. But we took people who had just finished eating lunch within half an hour of arriving to the theater. So these are people who are full. And then, what we did, we said, yo, it's your lucky day. Free popcorn and free soda. And we gave them these buckets of popcorn that were either those medium sized buckets like that. Was What does it cost? About $7.00 Or we gave them those huge Holy Roman Empire sized buckets that cost like $7.10.
And said, hey, enjoy your movie. The deal was this wasn't fresh, tasty popcorn. This was stuff, oh jeez, that was five days old. It didn't-- oh it didn't even crunch. You'd put it in your mouth, you'd chew and it'd be like little Styrofoam bits. [INAUDIBLE] And what's interesting is that if you take a look at what happens when you give people fresh popcorn in a movie theater. We actually put cameras up behind screens and filmed people.
What happens, the person will come. They'll sit down with their fresh bucket of popcorn. And they'll go, [SHOVELING GESTURE]. Their spouse or significant other will try to talk to them, and they'll go, oh, can't talk, eating. And what happens with the majority of people, in fact, it seems like over 60% of the people, is that they will eat a majority of the handfuls of popcorn that they'll eat before the credits finish rolling for the movie.
Well, here's what happens if you give people stale popcorn. They come on in, sit down, and you know, happy, eager faces. They take that first bite of popcorn. Oh jeez, and it's like they wince. It's so bad, you know, unh. So they take it, clear their throat, put the popcorn down and watch the movie. A couple minutes later they go, look, popcorn.
They pick it up, and they have another bite. They go, oh-- oh, they wince. The put it down. But that continues through the entire movie. [INAUDIBLE] this is so-- this is kind of funny because it would be like [INAUDIBLE] too. People would come out, you know, after they tried the popcorn. And they'd say, this isn't any good. I'd like to get my money back. And you're like, let's see. Free popcorn. OK, here's your imaginary money back.
Anyway, what would happen, by the end of the movie what we found out is that people eating out of the big buckets ate 35% more popcorn. Not because they were hungry, because they weren't-- not because the popcorn was good, because it wasn't. But simply because all the cues around them said, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat. All the people around them were munching, so they dutifully munched. The screen is going, the movie is on.
That fits into a whole script that says must do something with my hands. They dutifully munched. Those people who got the big buckets, this big bucket suggests that it's normal, typical, appropriate, and reasonable-- eat a larger amount. And they dutifully did so. And what would happen if you asked them as they left, you know, on average you ate about 35% more popcorn. Do you think you ate that because of the bucket?
What do you think they'd say. No, no. I didn't have breakfast on Wednesday. So I'm catching up. And this-- what makes this so bad is that these cues are so ubiquitous, and we are so unwilling to acknowledge something as silly as the size of a bowl or size of a popcorn dish could possibly be more intelligent than us.
And we did another series of studies which is kind of interesting. And we did this in some daycare camps. In these daycare camps, I mean they're not daycare camps. They're these health-- these wellness and fitness camps, these summer camps where fairly rich parents send their overweight kids for seven weeks for about $7,000 to lose seven pounds.
Well, we did this series of studies up there because one of things we were thinking about was the idea of glasses. If you look at drinking glasses, any time a person looks at an object-- whether it be a drinking glass, or whether it be a saber-tooth tiger, our tendency is not to go [LOOKING SIDE TO SIDE]. Our tendency is to look up and down. So when you pour in a glass, what happens is we end up judging how much we've poured by the vertical dimension.
And we tend to underestimate, or underweight, the horizontal dimension. Well, if that's true, what we should find is that people end up pouring a lot more into short wide glasses because they're not going [LOOKING SIDE TO SIDE]. They're looking vertically. And boy, you can pour quite a bit before liquid in a short wide glass goes up. So anyway, we did the study in these camps when people came in for breakfast. Gave them either a short wide 22-ounce glass, or a tall skinny 22-ounce glass.
And these kids are motivated to lose weight. They're taught portion control. Their calorie estimation. But when they go through that lunch line with their short wide glass, they poured 77% more in the short wide glasses than they did if we gave them the tall glass. And we thought, hmm, that's kind of interesting. Now, but [? when you ?] look at that, you can say well, maybe there just kids. They're just teenagers. Maybe that that's the deal that's going on, I don't know.
So we said, OK, well let's see if this works on the world's foremost experts on pouring. Now, who would be the world's foremost experts on pouring. Bartenders. Yes. So we actually went to a series of bartenders, had them do the same thing. Exact same thing happened. Let's take a look. Got a little demonstration of this down in New York. See if--
- [INAUDIBLE] also found that people pour less liquid into tall skinny glasses than short wide ones. Would even a professional bartender fall for that?
- Pour the amount of whiskey you'd pour here if you're going to be pouring a whiskey on the rocks.
- Wansick asked the owner of this bar to pour a shot into both kinds of glasses.
- There we go.
- All right.
- Were they equal shots? Watch what happens when Wansick pours them into measuring beakers.
- Ah, look at that.
- He had poured much less into the tall skinny glass.
- That's quite a difference.
- Quite. It's almost half as much.
- In fact, when Wansick asked dozens of bartenders to pour, they averaged a third more liquor in the short, fat glasses.
- I guess I'm going to have to buy more taller glasses.
BRIAN WANSINK: He's laughing there. But the second the camera went off he about tried to come over that counter to jack me [INAUDIBLE]. Well, so after we discovered this-- after we discovered this-- this was a couple of years ago, I was giving a talk a big Rotary Club convention down somewhere in Texas I believe. And you know, if you guys know Rotarians, these people are community leaders in their communities, a lot of business people, things like this.
And they're really, really social, very gregarious people largely. And they're away for two or three days at this convention being very social and very gregarious. And I'm so excited about this finding. And I'm kind of talking about this, just parenthetically in this talk. Again, I just kind or just happened to mention this. As I finished I said, so do you know what this means?
They start going, short wide glasses, short wide glasses. And I go, well, I guess you understood the research. I guess I was just thinking of a different implication. But then at about the same time, I was giving a talk with a group of dietitians. [INAUDIBLE] pretty good size group of dietitians. And I also got so excited about this I mentioned it.
And at the end of the talk, people could ask questions. And one of the people got up to the microphone. And she said, you know, if even professionals are fooled by these cues around us, what hope is there for the rest of us? The government has to do something. And I said, well, you know, I don't know about that. But I know that within about four days of finding this out, we got rid of every short wide glass in our lab.
And within about two weeks, everybody in our lab got rid of all their short wide glasses at home. We even had one of the guys-- he and his wife got rid of the red wine glasses, which tend to be a little bit more rounded in the bottom, and just kept the white wine glasses. The rest of us thought that was going too far. But anyway, we had that.
And that is one of the big points is that we can ask ourselves, or we can tell ourselves, now that I know I'm fooled by these cues, I must always remind myself of that so I don't over pour or overeat. Well, that's one thing to do. But most of us have way too many things on our mind than to walk through life saying, must not over pour in a short wide glass.
It's a whole lot easier if you just get rid of any cue that's biasing us. Whether it be the huge serving bowls, or the huge plates, whether it be short side glasses. It's a whole lot easier to change our environment than it is to try to change our behavior. Now we've got a lot of world class researchers at Cornell who study physiology. And one view that a lot of people have about physiology and sort of our metabolic state is that we know when we're full.
Now how may people say, yeah, I'm pretty darned good at knowing when I've had enough to eat? Yeah, I can't raise my hand. I'm wishfully doing that. But if you were to ask most people how they know they're through eating a meal, think of what you'd say. If I said, he had dinner, how do you know you're through eating dinner? What would you say?
[INAUDIBLE]. Well, it's interesting. We did this to a 150 Parisians, 150 people from Paris, and asked them, hey, how do you know when you're through eating a meal, that it's over? What the top three responses were was-- I know I am through eating when I feel full. I like, ooh, that's radical. Second was, I know I'm through eating when the food no longer tastes good to me. And the third was, I know I'm through eating when the food is cold.
Hmm. So those are all sort of internal cues that a person is using to determine that they've had too much to eat. It's the taste, how they feel. Now, about two months later I moved back to the United States, translated the questionnaire into English, and did it with a 150 Chicagoans. Now, let's see how your answers compare to Chicagoans.
The No one answer for the 150 Chicagoans was, I know I'm through eating when my plate is empty. The second most common answer was, I know through eating when everybody else is through. And they've gotten up, and turned off the light, leaving me alone in the dark. And the third most common reason that they stopped eating dinner was because the TV show they were watching was over.
Now, if you look at those-- those are all external cues. I mean there's a billion external cues around us that tell us to eat and tell us to keep eating. And if we end up relying on those, boy, we're in a world of hurt. But that's why Americans do what they do and the French do what they do. But we thought, well, that's kind of interesting. Number one reason people stop eating when their plate is empty.
So what do you suppose would happen if a plate or bowl never emptied. Would we just sort of keep [GESTURING]. Well, we decided to take a look at this. What we did was we developed a bottomless soup bowl. OK. There it is. What we did was we took soup bowls, and we drilled holes in the bottom of soup bowls. And we drilled holes through tables, and we take some food grade tubing, connected the bottom of the bowl underneath the table to that big pot there.
And the pot has six quarts of soup. I'll give you an idea what this looks like. This is not-- it's not my garage. Six quarts of soup. Now, when you're eating out of this, here's what happens. You take a little bite, you take another bite, another spoonful, another spoonful. And very slowly, the liquid starts dropping down in the bowl. But once you stop, imperceptibly that level of soup kind of start it's going mmmmm.
And you could eat all day, but until you eat six quarts of soup, you will never hit bottom. Now how many people think that if you were invited in with three other people to eat a lunch of soup, and your soup will never empty for let's say 20 minutes-- that you would be able to detect that? Oh yes, that's-- well you know, that's about the right odds too, because we did this with a 160 people in total. And out of a 160 people in total, only two people figured this out.
One guy dropped a napkin, and so he goes pick it up. And there's all this borg-like tubing underneath the table, mmmm. And this second guy, this is crazy. The second guy, I guess, forgetting that he wasn't at some sort of medieval banquet, he started channeling a Viking relative. He picks his bowl up.
Now, I mean this is all pressure fed. So the first thing that happens is that the soup goes pfft. But just as that's happening, this cord is zipping up out of the table as he pulls it. I mean it looks like a coral snake coming out of the table. And then, the guy across from him gets up and kind of knocks his chair over to get away. This woman next to him lets out one of these screams when she sees it.
And it's not like a eek! It's like one of these, you know, Jamie Lee Curtis Halloween sort of scream like, aghh! So we, after some discussion, we decided to eliminate those two groups in the study. But we're not just interested in how much people would eat, but also how much they thought they ate. And one of the things we found is when we stopped the study after 20 minutes, people who were eating out of this refillable soup bowl ate 77% more soup.
77% more. But if we asked them how full they were, and to rate how full they were, they all said, I'm not full. I mean, how could I be full. I still have half a bowl left. So ends up being one of very big dangers related to relying on our cues. Because our stomach can't count. Our stomach isn't this accurate calibrator. So what we tend to do is we tend to eat with our eyes.
Just last Tuesday I did a study down with Sanjay Gupta down for a CNN special on the 22nd of September where we set up a series of all you can eat chicken wings places down in Atlanta, and brought people in to eat chicken wings. Except that half the tables were bussed. As soon as people were given this big load of chicken wings-- as soon as they put them on the plate and at them until they're gone, a waitress flew in, grabbed the plate, left, and we kept track of whose wings belonged to who.
And when they had their second plate, at waitress flew in, grabbed the empty plate with the empty chicken bones and did that. Now the other half of the tables, the waitresses were just instructed to let those bones pile up. And they just kept piling up. Now, over the course of the night, when you're eating chicken bones, who do you think eats more? The people who had their bones continually bussed, or the people who had the bones sort of building up in front of them?
Oh, it's unbelievable. They end up eating about 40% to 45% more if you bussed the wings. And on average in this particular case, the typical-- the average person, if they had them bussed, ate about 14 wings. That's quite a bit. The people in the other condition ended up eating around nine or 10. But when both groups left the place, and we said, hey, how many chicken wings do you think you ate?
Well the one group who had them build up in front of them said, about nine or 10. The other group said, about nine or 10. And that's what happens. We eat with our eyes, and not with our stomach. Once the evidence is gone, so is our ability to actually estimate how much we've eaten. That's one of the reasons it's really dangerous to eat right out of a bowl-- I'm sorry-- right out of a bag. Or just standing in front of the freezer with your little Ben and Jerry's thing going like this.
Because you can eat an awful lot of handfuls of potato chips before it looks like there's any dent made in that bag at all. No, I'm still OK. I can still see the top. That's one of the reasons it's best to dish things out, because at least for one moment you've got a glimpse of what you're going to be eating. Well, let's look at the third myth. And this is, hey, when it comes to food, I know what I like.
And we believe this. I mean, the French say there's no accounting for taste. Most of us believe we know what we like. Well, I got a call from this guy, and this guy in the blue shirt right here a while back that said, you know, we got a really high-- a reasonably high end cafeteria. And we just transformed it over to serve healthy food. And he said, there's only one problem. Nobody is coming here. It's like, oh.
So he decided-- he said, what are some things we could do to get people to eat healthy food? And I said, well, first of all we won't call it healthy. Because that's going to appeal to about three people. And everybody else is going to say, ooh, healthy? No thanks. And so, one of the first things we did was a six week study where we simply changed the names of the foods. So for the first couple weeks, we'd have something-- a seafood fillet would be served.
So they could order it off the menu. Then it would go off the menu for a couple of weeks. Then it would come back on the menu a couple weeks later with a new name, succulent Italian seafood fillet. Now, it's the exact same dried up fish stick, but now with a new name. In fact, it might've even been the same fish stick from two weeks earlier.
Or in one other case, what we do is we would take things like, say chocolate cake, and we'd rename it a couple weeks later, Belgian black forest double chocolate cake. Now you know, it doesn't even matter that the Black Forest isn't in Belgium. No. You give it this nice descriptive label, people go, ah, that sounds good. I bet it's going to taste good. And that basic expectation that something is going to taste good had this very predictable influence on how they'd rate it.
Any time we put a descriptive word in front of a food, people who took that, at the end of the day when we asked them to fill out some questionnaires, were more likely to rate it as tasty. They were also more likely to rate the restaurant as trendy. And they were also more likely to believe that the chef had had culinary training in Europe. Now in reality, the guy had just been fired from Burger King two weeks earlier.
But it didn't matter. Their expectations [? made ?] this off the charts. But to give you a little bit of an idea. Whoopsy. Whoopsy. To give you a little bit of an idea how far we can stretch this, we actually did this-- I have a research restaurant that's open one day. It's not here in Ithaca. It's open one day a week where there's a pre-fixed meal that's served. And what we do is people go there, and they'll pay 25 bucks for a nice meal.
But what they-- and they'll know something is going on. And they'll typically think they're rating the taste of a recipe. But really, what's going on is something else. So a couple of February's ago, we did a study, and we wanted to see how far can these halos that surround food extend? I mean, if you think that one food is going to be really good, can that actually have this effect on the other things you're eating.
And so, what we did, is we took-- we used wine in this example. And we bought a bunch of cases of this wine. It's called Charles Shaw wine. Now, Charles Shaw wine sells for $2 a bottle. And it's affectionately known as what? Two buck Chuck. So we took these bottles, and what we did is we soaked off all the labels on these bottles.
And we replaced it with labels that either said that it was a Cabernet from California, a place known for pretty decent wine. Yeah? Or we put a label on that said it was a Cabernet from North Dakota-- a place less known for wine than perhaps buffalo, and peace gardens, and things like that. So what happened that night, and we had known what had happened in a previous test we did. We knew that if we gave people wine that they believed was from California, they'd rate it as pretty good.
If we gave them the exact same wine that says from North Dakota, they rate it as, uhh, not so good. So what we did though, is when these people came in, we said, hey, thanks for keeping your reservation, snowy February. We appreciate it, and because of your effort we're going give you a free glass of this nice Cabernet from California. The other tables got the exact same thing, but it was this nice Cabernet from North Dakota.
And one of the things we ended up finding was that if people believed they were drinking California wine, they spent about 11 minutes longer eating dinner, they ate more of their dinner, they rated the dinner as better tasting, and they were more likely to make reservations to come back within the next three months. For people who were given the North Dakota wine, the evening wasn't quite so magical.
For these people, they just pretty much finished their meal and left. They didn't rate it as being very good. They left more of it on the plate. And when asked if they wanted to make reservations to come back within the next three months, you know, it's really a busy time of the year. So actually, somebody when this was coming out in a journal a few months ago, I got a call from somebody who was from the wine industry.
I think like the wine industry of Michigan or something like that. They said, but then a question goes, who drank more wine? Was it the people who thought they were drinking California wine, or the people who thought they were drinking North Dakota wine/ What do you think the answer is to that? They both drank the exact same amount. How much was that? The whole glass.
This was really terrible. Are you going to finish yours? Now, you know, we can hear something like that. We're all too smart to be fooled by a little sign on something. We're too smart to be fooled by a wine label. We're too smart to be fooled by that. But let me just show you something that I think is kind of interesting.
- Rain forest smoothie.
- It's unbelievable how suggestible our taste is. I'm Brian Wansink
- To demonstrate that, Wansink tricked some of our own staff-- seven of 2020's college interns. First, he added some chocolate sauce to vanilla yogurt. Then he told the students--
- We're going to be doing a little strawberry yogurt taste test.
- On the table, he had some strawberry yogurt containers.
- So if you can put your blindfolds on, what I'll--
- The students put on blindfolds, tasted the yogurt. And then, Wansink asked them to compare the strawberry tastes.
- I think they both tasted really strong with strawberry.
- All the students were certain they were eating strawberry yogurt.
- This one had a much stronger strawberry taste to it.
- Oh, It just tasted more like strawberry.
- With this woman, Wansink tried something different.
- We're going to be tasting a couple of different kinds of yogurts today.
- He didn't tell her what flavor it was. So when he asked her to rate the strawberry taste--
- Honestly, I didn't notice it's strawberry.
- OK, good.
- And yet, by the time I interviewed the group, she too had accepted the idea that she'd eaten strawberry.
- When you follow up with a question like which one is more strawberry, I was like I had too choose one.
- They all believed it was strawberry.
- Actually, none of them was strawberry. It was vanilla yogurt with chocolate sauce.
- Stop. That can't be.
- What do you mean it can't be?
- Well, I thought I tasted strawberry. I guess also, when I opened my eyes the two yogurts in front had a strawberry on the box.
- I think you're joshing us right now. I do. Because I feel like there was definitely a taste of strawberry.
- No, it was vanilla yogurt with chocolate sauce.
- But you thought it was strawberry. Why?
- It tasted like strawberry. I swear it did.
- The moral of these stories, says Wansink, is that we are much less taste sensitive than we think we are.
- We don't want to really believe that we are duped or fooled by something as simple as the [AUDIO OUT]
Now, you know, in looking at stuff you guys say, in looking at some of this stuff, you can say, well yeah, it's fine. So maybe this might trick me. I might end up overpaying at dinner time because I think it's going to taste better than in reality it might. But hey, so it's cute, that can I use that? Well, I had an interesting-- I got an interesting phone call about a year or so ago from this reporter from this magazine called The New Scientist.
It's this really cool sort of British publication. It's kind of like Scientific American. And you know how the Brits are. They're really witty and funny in the stuff they do. So it's kind of a cross, actually, between Scientific American and Maxim without the cover thing. Very witty, very sort of cool. And this guy was doing an article for the Christmas issue, which had to do with how do you get your in-laws to think you're a better cook than you actually are?
And it's interesting because, remember, anything that influences your expectations-- or rather, anything that influences the expectations of your dinner guests is going to have this very predictable impact on how they actually taste it and rate it after it's over. So let's say there's somebody special you want to invite over for dinner this weekend. You'd kind of like to impress them, but you don't even really know what aisle they sell toast on.
Boiling water is a recipe thing you haven't figured out yet. What can you do to have that person think you're a better cook than you actually are, and have a better time than they actually would? Well basically, anything that influences his or her expectations will have this influence. Whether it be using your nice plates, candles. We did a study with brownies where we gave people a brownie either on a paper plate, and asked them to rate the taste and say how much-- what's the most they would pay for it.
They'd rate it and they'd say, yeah, that's pretty good. What's the most you'd be willing to pay for it. On average, it was about $0.54. If we gave him the same brownie on china and had them rate the taste, they'd go oh, this is incredible. How much would you be willing to pay for it. It was about a $1.14. So simply changing the plates raises expectations that things are going taste good.
Because after all, I mean, beef-a-roni on a really great plate might still be beef-a-roni. But you're expecting it's going to taste better. You can use music. You can use anything that influences these expectations. So we're doing this interview, and at the end of the interview the guy, the reporter, says-- he says, I guess there's one of these cues that I use that I found is really effective for me.
And apparently, he has a lot of dinner parties. And I said, oh, what is it? And he goes, well, what I do is-- I used to have everything prepared before guests came over. And so, they'd sit in the other room, have a glass of wine, and then at some point, he'd say, OK, dinner is served. And as they walked into the dining room, he'd just serve it from the kitchen. And people would eat it, and they'd go, yeah, that's pretty good.
And he realized what was happening was that people weren't expecting it to taste very good, because, how could it? It was instant food. So what he started doing was he'd excuse himself about 10 or 15 minutes before dinner was served, even though it was totally prepared. And he'd say, I need to be finishing some things up in the kitchen. He walk in the kitchen with his wine and just sort of like sit there, bang some pots and pans every once in awhile.
And people would go, well, sounds pretty busy. If he's pretty busy, he's putting a lot of work in it. If he's putting a lot of work in it, it must taste good. They sit down, and they'd go, wow, this is great. So simply managing those expectations has, in all instances we've looked at, actually raises your expectations. And raising those expectations actually makes you think it's going taste better than [INAUDIBLE] [? instead ?] they thought it going to taste bad to begin with.
So food myths, what's the solution? Well, the solution is not to concentrate and use your willpower. I mean, we did some cool studies where we showed that when you put chocolates on a office worker's desk they end up eating twice as many as if you just put it six feet from the desk. Well, the decision isn't willpower and sort of concentration because you can stare at a bowl of candy on your desk and go, no, no, no. But after about the 27th no, you're going to start getting some maybes.
And then you're going to have a few yeses. It's a whole lot easier to see it over there and go, eh, too far. So the idea is not actually to concentrate and say must not over pour in a short wide glass. No, just get rid of your short wide glasses, move your candy dish. Just re-engineer your environment in small ways. So let me give you a couple of tips that you might be able to use tonight. And again, these are from chapter 3 of the book.
One idea you can use is that we generally overeat whatever we serve ourselves. That was an article we had in Journal of the American Medical Association a couple years ago. How can we stop this? Well, you can use smaller bowls that allow refills. We find that if you end up doing that, and the person has to get up to refill their bowl or their plate, they end up eating 20% less food, and 30% fewer refills.
I mean, you can serve lunch in salad plates, you can replace wider glasses with taller ones, re-pack large packages into smaller bowls or baggies. Use smaller serving spoons. And don't eat family style. Keep serving bowls in the kitchen and off the table. Now, if there's something you want to encourage your family to eat more of, let's say vegetables or salad, let's do the opposite. Keep that on the table [INAUDIBLE] family style. Pre-plate foods so you know how much should be eaten.
So there, in about an hour, I wanted to capture as accurately as I could one of the chapters in Mindless Eating. But I think now we have time for questions. Questions about anything related to food, not that I can answer them. But we might make some headway. Yes?
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah. Very good. Let's talk about that. That's great. Great, well thanks for participating in that. That is, if you remember that little clip that took place in the lab. And there was kind of the blond woman who says, what we're having today is-- and had a really beautiful French accent-- we're having today is pasta bologna. That was the study that you probably saw her in.
Because what we were looking at is the idea of calorie compensation. Now, one of the things that happens, we found, when a lot of people start their exercise programs is what happens in the first week or two-- they gain weight. It's like, wait a minute. This isn't what's supposed to happen. And so, what do people usually say. Yeah, I gained a couple pounds last week because I'm building muscle mass.
It's like, you know, your exercise program consists of walking around the block twice. I don't think you're in danger of bulking out. So what, instead, we think is going on is a twofold compensation. I think the thing that goes on is when people exercise they believe they've actually burned more calories than they actually do. And you know this, like when you're like on one of those exercise machines.
And you've been out for 40 minutes, and you look at how many calories you burned. It says 200. Mostly, I think people underestimate the number of calories they actually burn. But second of all, because they feel put out, they feel deserving of indulging, right? Oh man, I really, ooh, I feel the burn there. Ooh, yeah. I really deserve to have X, Y or something indulgent.
And typically, what we found in that particular study, for instance, that people ended up eating about 28% more if they exercised. And when you subtract off the calories they burned, they ended up eating about 18% more calories. Because they, by god, they're exercising and they deserve it. Now, when we did the exact same study and we made them walk two kilometers. We did the exact same study, but we gave a group of people iPods.
And we told them it wasn't an exercise study but it was an iPod study. They didn't feel any need to have to burn-- they didn't feel any need to compensate themselves by eating because, after all, they were having fun. They weren't working. We found there they ended up eating less. Thanks for asking about that. And thanks for participating in that. Yes?
BRIAN WANSINK: That's a good question. She says what's the difference between the French and Americans? What led them to use internal cues and external cues? I believe one thing that's going on-- I think they're drifting more and more toward using cues. And actually, we have, just today, we actually have a PhD student from France who's visiting and just arrived a couple of days ago.
But what I think is going on is that, if you look at certain environments, let's say European environments and Asian environments, eating occasions are much more structured than they are in the United States. Like what did we do for dinner tonight? Well probably, something very different than we did for dinner last night. What did we do for breakfast today?
We might have eaten it, we might've skipped it. We might have eaten at 10 o'clock. We might have eaten a candy bar instead. So our meal patterns are becoming less, and less, and less structured because our lives are getting busier, and we have so many cool opportunities. On the other hand, if you look at Europeans and Asians, a lot of their meals-- mealtime-- has actually remained reasonably structured.
Whether it be the breakfast, whether it be what they have for lunch. And dinners might be a little less structured. But the more structure you have in your life, the less you're influenced by these external cues. So if you get up and you have a half cup of oatmeal and raisins every, single, day-- you've done that for the last however many years. It doesn't matter what bomb's going off around you. You're still going to have half a cup of oatmeal and raisins.
And that's where I think the big thing is. [INAUDIBLE] as we see over in Europe, and also now there's a lot more discretionary income in a lot of countries, we're finding meal patterns are becoming less structured. And I think the less structured they become, the more they're going to be relying on these external cues. It's a good question. Yes sir?
AUDIENCE: Is there anything to indicate that mindless eating is increasing as the food tastes worse in America [INAUDIBLE] too much but maybe our expectations is so diminished that we want to overcome the taste [INAUDIBLE].
BRIAN WANSINK: Boy, that is a really, really great question. And we tried to study just this last spring, where what we did was we gave people either medium size portions of really great food-- great pasta in a great sauce. Or what we did is we gave them super large portions of mediocre pasta, which essentially is stuff that was-- it was undercooked. And it was the pasta sauce was watered down. To see if people would compensate by overeating.
And we actually haven't looked at that data yet. But I think that there's something that goes on, and related to that. Because sometimes if you have a really, really, really great meal. And we had a really great meal tonight at [INAUDIBLE]. And we were looking at each other, and we said, you guys want dessert? The meal was good enough we didn't feel like we needed to compensate by eating dessert.
But I think if it would have been a less good meal, we would've said bring it on. Bring it on. Yeah. But I think that's-- I think that there's some sort of compensation that goes on there too. And we haven't been able to put our finger on it, but anecdotally, I think you're right on target. Yeah. Yes, up there in the--
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. It occurred to me that [INAUDIBLE] the wine test. [? It ?] [INAUDIBLE]. So do you want to comment on that? Is there a relationship [INAUDIBLE].
BRIAN WANSINK: Well we also-- what I failed to kind of mention there was, because it muddied it up, as we also had a third drink where they just got--
BRIAN WANSINK: Oh, she said was this some sort of placebo effect when you looked at the wine study? And one of the things we actually included in that study was that a third group where they weren't told it was from any state. And then what we found is that North Dakota was below that, California was above that. I didn't talk about that because it's less interesting. That's a very good question. Yeah, yes sir?
AUDIENCE: I was intrigued by the study that you had when people confused chocolate and strawberry. Does that have anything to do with the fact that we have more receptors with the nose than we have with the mouth? And [INAUDIBLE] suggest that we should be dining rather than eating, as Julia child used to say. [INAUDIBLE] all our sense, rather than just the mouth.
BRIAN WANSINK: No, and I think that's a great thing to do. I mean to try to do that would be a good exercise for all of us. He said, when you look-- when you saw how people were confusing the taste of the chocolate and strawberries, he says, does this suggest that we should do a better job trying to include all of our senses when we eat, instead of just trying to isolate it? And he talked about Julia Child's distinction between eating versus dining.
Now, Julia Child also had another really great quote, which relates to that very last clip we saw where she said, "Don't ever tell anybody that the recipe didn't come out as you planned it. Because don't know what it was supposed to taste like." But I think it's true about the dining. Because one of the things-- we've done a number of studies like this.
We did something very cool for the US army. You know, the US army has a problem. When soldiers get deployed in the fields, they just stop eating. They don't eat very much. And then the stress and all this stuff is going on. And one thing we found would stimulate their eating is if we could kind of make things smell better, stronger.
But unfortunately, can't do that to food all the time, because it has-- army food has to be shelf stable for three years. And to put something in it that gives a nice odor might not make it last for three years. So what we found was a way to impregnate the plastic wrappers and dishes with smells. So they open the thing up, and they go, woo-hoo, smells like maple cinnamon oatmeal.
No it's just really bad oatmeal with a maple cinnamon flavor smelling wrapper. And what we found is that we did that with a group doing that. We did it with a group with no smell. We did it with a group where we gave it macaroni and cheese smell. OK. You smell that maples-- the maple smell, maple and cinnamon smell. People ate a whole lot more of the stuff.
They smell the macaroni and cheese smell, they'd take a bite, and they'd go, something isn't right. I'm not really going to think about it, but I'm also not going to eat much more of this. So I think it's a great idea. I had one of the guys in my lab, one of the women in my lab a while back, went to some mindful eating seminar. It was sort of like a Zen sort of thing.
And she said for 45 minutes they were given one pea. And for 15 minutes they had to describe the pea and what they thought it would taste like. Then for the next 15 minutes they had to feel the pea with all their other senses. And then, the last 15 minutes they could eat it slowly. I just thought, that's going way too far to dine. But I like your point. It's very good. Sir?
AUDIENCE: How does perceived healthiness affect eating habits?
BRIAN WANSINK: Oh, that's really great. It does a tremendous job with about 15% of the population. And a lot of the other people say, health equals bad taste. You know, abstractly, I like the idea, but I'm not into bad taste right now. I'm hungry, it's time to eat. And it's one reason why when-- last [INAUDIBLE] we did some studies at 10:30 in the day, asking people what they're going to eat for lunch.
And then, actually asking them after lunch what they ate. And at 10:30 people, they have incredible intentions. Well, I was thinking of having that salad sub, yeah, just lettuce. Nothing else, just lettuce and some salt. And then you talk to them three hours later, and say what did you have? They go, to meatball sub. The 12-inch one. And so, I mean that's one thing is that our resolve crumbles when we end up being at the counter.
And we started last, we're doing something in New York City with the calorie labeling. You might've heard of that that's going on. And New York City has created these laws where you have to [INAUDIBLE] certain label-- fast food menus have to have the calories on. And were actually seeing if this influences people. And we were just on this last weekend. So we'll know more. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Can you [? tell people ?] [? for a while ?] about how different social situations influence eating habits?
BRIAN WANSINK: Oh, it's a great question. It's a great question. Well, one thing that we found in some of our research, and some other researchers in another lab has found this down in Georgia, is that if you eat with one other person you'll eat, on average, about 35% more food than if you eat by yourself. If you eat with seven other people, if it's a table of eight, you'd eat close to 80% to 90% more.
That's unbelievable. And you say, well what is it that's going on that causes that? Well, it's a couple things. First of all, most of us, if we start eating we wait till everybody at the table is finished before we get up and leave. I mean we didn't do that in high school. But ever since high school, most of us will wait.
So you're sitting there for the slowest person to finish. And the idea of having fourths of the mashed potatoes isn't a bad idea. It's sitting right in front of you. Particularly if you're dad. OK, so that's one thing that's going on is you continually eat throughout the-- you often can eat until the last person is done. The other that's going on is that typically these are fun experiences.
You like being with your friend, or you like being with your seven friends. So when one person says, you know, I think I'm going to have a dessert. You want to extend the situation. You've kind of go, me too. And somebody else says, you know, I think I want to have one of those double, triple lattes with mayonnaise in it. And you go, that sound good to me too.
And before you know it, these things get extended. And so that-- but it also has, what, the context of the restaurant. A really cool study, we didn't do this. But a researcher did this a number-- back in the '80s where you took-- went down to Dallas, Texas. And took a restaurant, and over a series of about four or five weeks, every night would alternate the music that was played.
So it would either be like the slow ballad stuff, like the Ella Fitzgeralds and-- or it would be sort of the up tempo sort of swing music-- a little more upbeat stuff. And what he was interested in wasn't what people thought of the food. He was interested in how much they ate. And what he found was that over the course of these meals, people ended up spending a lot longer when the music was slow.
They ended eating slightly more. They ended up drinking 40% more. Simply sticking around longer, just like when you're grocery shopping, the longer you stay in the store, the more stuff you buy. The longer you sit in a restaurant, be it because it's a nice atmosphere, because you're with friends you like-- the more you're going to eat. It's a great question. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Can we expect large [INAUDIBLE] starting now [INAUDIBLE] long [INAUDIBLE] restaurants [INAUDIBLE]?
BRIAN WANSINK: It's really interesting you said that, because when that article came out, it came out-- it was published in the British Medical Journal about a year and a half ago. When that came out, we must have gotten 50 or 60 phone calls or requests for this article. But it's basically from people that I'm sure, once they read the abstract, would go oh god. Can somebody translate this for me?
But what ended up happening was interesting. Just last week, or the week before, some magazine did an article on 10 things your bartender won't tell you. And number four was this thing about glasses. And I didn't know this, but in the article he said that after this came out, it created a rush from bars for buying taller, skinnier glasses.
And we know a bunch of these-- they're called casual dining chains, like TGI Fridays, and things like that, actually went and ordered taller, skinnier glasses instead of the old short wide ones. So keep an eye out. Or take your own short wide one. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Earlier, you mentioned something about personality. I just wondered what you were talking about [INAUDIBLE]?
BRIAN WANSINK: Well, there's a lot of things like that, but one thing that's kind of interesting in chapter 7 is in the mood for comfort foods. But one of the things, studies we talk about in the very first page or so of that book is something related to comfort foods. Now, when you hear the word comfort foods, most of us think sort of like this indulgent sort of death by chocolate sort of thing, right?
We did a study of about a 1,000 North Americans. And we found that about 40% of people's favorite comfort foods aren't the sugary, salty, fatty things. But they end up being served reasonably healthy meal-related foods. And when you break it down further, and you look at males versus females, and you ask males what their top comfort foods are-- they tend to say things like steak, hamburgers, pasta, pizza, soup, casseroles, things like this.
And you say, why on Earth do you like those? They'd say, look, when I'm fed those foods, I feel like I am the center of the universe. People are serving me and giving me something I really like. I really feel special. When we ask women what their favorite comfort foods are, they tend to say things like chocolate, cookies, cake, ice cream, chips, candy bars, things like this.
So we say, yeah, what about this other stuff. What about these meal-related foods? They go, you know, we like those, but when I think of those, I don't think comfort. Because somebody has to make those, and clean up after it. And it's either my mom when I was growing up, or it's me now. They don't bring no comfort. And indeed, if you look at most of the foods that they rate as comfort foods, there's zero prep time.
Opening the candy bar? Done. Eating Chubby Hubby out of a-- in front of the freezer. Done. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Could you tell us the menu on the [INAUDIBLE].
BRIAN WANSINK: She says, can you tell-- yes, yes, yes. Well, I get up really pretty early, like 4:00 to 5:00 usually. The first thing I do is to have a glass of milk. And then I drink Diet Coke until about 9:00 AM. But [INAUDIBLE] you know, I have to sit and have some-- breakfast is usually hot, have some sort of protein. I mean, that could be-- it was a leftover piece of pizza yesterday. Today it was eggs.
And then lunch ends up being really sort of haphazard, usually sandwiches and stuff. We oftentimes will go to Burger King or McDonald's. Because we've got like, I guess about eight people in the lab. And if we're going to have a brainstorming working session, I'm not going to take them to your Le Bec Fin or someplace for lunch. No, no. We'll go to Burger King where I know I can pay 4 bucks for everybody.
But the thing is, Burger King or McDonald's, either place you go to, you can buy a combo meal. And instead of French fries, you can get a salad. Or a couple of people might get French fries, and we'll all share them. And the rest of the people get salads. And then for night-- nighttime we usually have a more indulgent meal. I really like great food. So nighttime is a much better meal. But no snacks. Ooh, I feel so exposed. Way in back there, yes?
AUDIENCE: All right. Well, [INAUDIBLE]?
BRIAN WANSINK: Yes.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] experience [INAUDIBLE] tell you [INAUDIBLE]?
BRIAN WANSINK: Well, it's interesting you said that, because we did all the original 100-calorie pack research back in the mid-'90s. In fact, we found out that this was a great way to help people control how much they ate. And indeed, it works, for about 70% of the people end up eating less food when they're broken into 100-calorie packs. But about 30% of the people end up eating more good.
Because if you want 250 calories, you've got to decide between two of those things or three of those things. And there's a percentage of people that say, ooh, I'm going up. Going to get that third one. But it's interesting, after we did that research, when I took it around to companies and said, look companies, if you're looking for-- I went to M&M/Mars, Kellogg's, Nabisco, and said look.
If you're looking for a way that you can actually help people eat less, here's a great idea. And this is maybe '95, and companies were going, I don't know. Make more money by selling less product? In so I was very, very frustrated. And about two or three years later, first M&M-- first Nabisco came and said, do you really think there's a big enough market out there who'll be willing to pay more money for less food?
And Kellogg's asked the same question. And M&M/Mars did. And very quickly that's what happened. Good question. Got time for probably a couple more questions. Yes? Back there.
BRIAN WANSINK: That's a great question. I was just somewhere last week, and actually that was brought up at a dinner table conversation too. I think it has-- I think the basic idea of setting up default behavior, change your environment, make it do what's right, rather than trying to change your mind has tremendous implications for other areas. Let's take exercise, for instance.
You can say-- you can try to remind yourself every day at lunchtime, I'm going to go out and walk. Or you can simply park your car in the farther parking lot so you have to walk to get to work, or take the stairs. Let's say you say, really I should be spending a lot less time watching that dumb TV set. But I can't pull myself away. There might be a new episode of Sponge Bob on.
Well, it's a whole lot easier to rearrange your favorite TV couch so it's a little bit awkward to see the TV, and that way, actually, it's a built-in environmental change that'll help you do what's right. And that's, I think in a lot of areas of trying to break habits, that's a good thing to do. We've been doing something that's-- [INAUDIBLE] we've been trying to look into binge drinking.
How can you stop binge drinking on campuses? And we did this cool thing that I thought was pretty cool. It's something where we-- at a bunch of fraternity parties, we were able to enlist people to be part of a study where when they drink their beer, that instead of refilling the glass, anytime the finished a glass, they just put a fresh glass inside so that there were some running total of how many glasses they had drank by the end of the day.
You have three stacked classes, you know you had three beers. So we though, ooh, this so smart, so smart. And so, the next day we contacted people. And we found that-- I thinks it was 71% or 72% said that-- and actually, this is-- the paperback of Mindless Eating is coming out in a couple of months. And we actually have this in the back of the paperback. 71% or 72% said yes, it helped me track how much I drank.
When we asked, so, did you drink less because of that, only 26% said yes. No, I decided now it's a competition. It was a challenge. One more question. Yes, way in back, in the blue.
AUDIENCE: I remember [INAUDIBLE] general [INAUDIBLE] years back where they decided [? to say ?] that, you know, that all these [INAUDIBLE] in college dorms, people would tend to like you better. I'm just wondering, is [INAUDIBLE] if you're in a [INAUDIBLE] for you, and they [INAUDIBLE] you're going to eat, do people feel more satisfied by [INAUDIBLE]?
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah, no [INAUDIBLE] something that really goes on that makes us say, not as Americans but just as human beings, that the more I'm getting for my money the better, even if it's a vice like that. And I think what's interesting is TGI Friday is now experiencing with something called right sized portions. And what they're doing is they're giving you a half-sized portion. They charge you maybe 70% more.
It will be interesting to see if this actually ends up working for them. Because there are definitely some of us who want smaller portions, and would even pay a little bit more per ounce for that small portion. So we'll see whether that works. That's a great question. Well, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
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Brian Wansink's teaching and research interests are on how on ads, packaging, and personality traits influence the usage frequency and usage volume of healthy foods. Along with over 75 journal articles, Wansink, Cornell's John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing, has written the books Marketing Nutrition, Consumer Panels, Asking Questions, and Mindless Eating (April 2006).
As director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, which focuses on the psychology behind what people eat and how often they eat it, Wansink and his team help companies develop "win-win" ways in which they can help people eat more nutritiously and to better control how much they eat. The lab's work has won national and international awards for its relevance to consumers. His research has been widely featured on 20/20, BBC News, The Learning Channel, all news networks, and has appeared multiple times on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
This lecture is part of the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions summer events series.