Subjective Happiness and Emotional Responsiveness to Food Stimuli
Through three studies, this study aims to investigate the relationship between subjective happiness and responsiveness to eating and to foods. In Study 1, 299 Japanese undergraduates completed the Japanese subjective happiness scale and self-report questionnaires for attitudes toward eating and food. Study 1 revealed that in daily life, people with higher happiness levels show a stronger tendency to feel pleasure by eating than those with lower happiness levels. In Study 2, 26 Japanese undergraduates performed impression assessments for foods when looking at pictures of them. In Study 3, 22 Japanese undergraduates performed the same assessments when looking at real foods and eating them using a comparison with the data from pictures of non-food items as a control condition. The results of the study indicate that people with higher happiness levels show a stronger emotional response (happy and glad) to food stimuli than those with lower happiness levels. Even images of food were effective. No such group differences were observed for appetitive responses. It was also shown that emotional responses to the pictures of non-food items’ condition in the two groups did not differ. The present studies provided empirical evidence that subjective happiness has relevance to daily eating behavior and attitudes. Further studies should investigate the possibility that subjective happiness is related to a wide range of behavior and cognition in our daily life.
KeywordsSubjective happiness Attitude toward food Food-related stimuli Palatability Positive emotion
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