The Scientific Reason Movie Theater Food Cravings Are Hard To Control – Health Digest
According to a 2013 four-part study conducted by the Association for Consumer Research, we are more likely to reach for unhealthy food when seated in a dimly lit environment. When given the choice between a fruit cup or a cheesecake slice, participants seated around a table reached more often for the cheesecake when surrounded by dim lighting versus bright lighting. Sarah Lefebvre, an associate professor of marketing at Murray State University, told Time that turning down the lights — such as when in a movie theater — prompts us to relax. As a result, we’re less focused on what we’re eating and more focused on whether or not our protagonist will escape the clutches of the evil killer.
Movie theaters may also play on our sense of taste. Lefebvre notes how, in her own research, she found that dim lighting tends to enhance our perception of single-flavored food items — think sweet, salty, sour, etc. Over 80 college students were given a square of chocolate to eat while either wearing a pair of clear-lens sunglasses or dark-lens sunglasses, which were designed to simulate the ambiance lighting of dine-in restaurants. When wearing the tinted sunglasses, students reported a greater liking of the chocolate square. Offering a possible explanation for these findings, Lefebvre believes that as our sense of sight is diminished in low light, our sense of taste gets a boost to make up for the loss.