Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Your Mind Tastes The Wine

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have shown that a person's enjoyment of wine can be heightened if they are simply told that it is an expensive one.

Click here to read the interesting article, this one from the BBC News in the United Kingdom. I heard about it on the radio as I drove home yesterday. And where did I hear about it in the first place? Twitter. I imagine it’s all over winedom by now.

I recommend you read the article if you haven’t already. Basically, volunteers in the Cal Tech experiment thought the wine they were told was more expensive was also better than the ones that were supposedly less expensive, even though the true prices were not as stated by the researchers.

This doesn’t surprise me in the least, however, and it also wouldn’t surprise me if I had been one of the volunteers and thought the “more expensive” wine was also the more enjoyable. I'm suggestible.

On the other hand, my rebellious nature could have emerged, leading me to declare that the more expensive wine was overpriced and the cheaper wine was a much better value, even perhaps being the better wine.

Either way, however, it would have been my mind, rather than my taste buds and nose that was talking.

So often we believe what we want to believe, despite what our senses (including the sixth one, common) is telling us. We justify and rationalize. Marketing people know that full well, which is why the prices of certain items are way out of proportion to what it actually costs to produce them. When it comes to these types of products, they know that it is not the senses that have to be satisfied, but the mind.

How do you think you would have fared in this experiment? Or how do you fare in real life? Do preconceived judgments arise from your expectations? I know that happens to me.

Consider though, what exactly does it mean if we are pleased with something even though we’ve been unknowingly hoodwinked, like those volunteers in the experiment? Is ignorance bliss? That’s some food (or wine) for thought.

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