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The way the cookie crumbles

Thinking about your own death or watching CSI can make you reach for the cookie jar.

by: Reuters | 24 Jun 2008

A study found that morbid thoughts tend to whet the appetite.

Researchers Naomi Mandel from Arizona State University and Dirk Smeesters from Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands conducted several experiments in Europe and the United States where participants wrote essays on their feelings about their own deaths.

They then checked off items on a grocery list or ate cookies. Consumers who wrote about their own deaths wanted to buy more and ate more than those who wrote about a painful medical procedure .

"People want to consumer more of all kinds of foods, both healthy and unhealthy, when thinking about the idea that they will die some day," said the researchers in a report published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

They found people with low self-esteem, in particular, tend to over-consume after death-related thoughts.

Escape from self-awareness
Mandel and Smeesters explained this by using a theory called "escape from self-awareness."

"When people are reminded of their inevitable mortality, they may start to feel uncomfortable about what they have done with their lives and whether they have made a significant mark on the universe. This is a state called "heightened self-awareness,"" they said.

The study also revealed that placing a mirror in front of the participants reduced the desire to over-consume.

Do you agree – do morbid thoughts make you hungry?

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