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This week in weird science, Cornell University researchers discovered that diners at an Italian restaurant in New York State thought the all-you-can-eat buffet food was more delicious when it cost $8 per plate as opposed to $4.
Customers ranked the more expensive food 11 percent more delicious when it cost more, suggesting that on some level we continue to associate higher price points with greater satisfaction, and conversely, “simply cutting the price of food at a restaurant dramatically affects how customers evaluate and appreciate the food.” So said research lead Brian Wansink, Ph.D., a professor at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University.
The study also suggested that “people who paid the lower price also more often reported feeling like they had overeaten, felt more guilt about the meal, and reported liking the food less and less throughout the course of the meal.” Health consequences of all-you-can-eat buffets aside, this is interesting: are we starting to associate lower price points with health-related shortcuts?
This reminds us of studies that have found that we like more expensive wine better when we know it’s more expensive. So it’s possible we like to think that we have refined palates, and that we prefer fancier feasts to plain ones.