Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 137–160 | Cite as

The Pleasures of Eating: A Qualitative Analysis

  • Michael MachtEmail author
  • Jessica Meininger
  • Jochen Roth


The pleasures of eating were explored in semi-structured interviews with nine female and seven male persons. Qualitative analysis of interview transcripts revealed two substantial features of hedonic eating experiences. First, they encompass a variety of components: In the stimulus domain, the foods, features of the physical environment, and social factors; in the domain of the organism a specific somato-psychic state and an attitude towards hedonism; in the domain of responses preparatory activities, specific characteristics of eating behavior, and positive sensations and emotions. Second, pleasures of eating depend on a variety of external and internal conditions. External conditions go far beyond the food itself: Physical features of the environment and social factors amplify food-induced positive affective reactions and embed them in an individually unique setting. Internal conditions include motivational, cognitive and behavioral factors: People who enjoy eating have the explicit intention to enjoy, they eat slowly and focus upon salient features of foods and environments, and they often engage in social activities before, during and after the meal. Hedonic eating experiences can best be understood as “appetite gestalten”, i.e. individually specific configurations of stimuli, organism variables, and responses. A holistic, multi-component perspective is suggested as a framework for future research.


appetite gestalt eating emotion food hedonism pleasure qualitative analysis. 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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