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Overdoing junk food at a restaurant? Blame the music

The restaurant music can influence what food people choose to eat, say scientists.

PTI|
Last Updated: May 29, 2018, 06.23 PM IST
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WASHINGTON: Ambient music in restaurants can influence what food people choose, say scientists including one of Indian origin who have found that louder environments inspire diners to crave greasy cheeseburgers and fries instead of making healthier choices like salads.

Volume is proven to directly impact heart rate and arousal. Softer music has a calming effect, making us more mindful of what we order, researchers said.

This typically results in healthier choices, such as a salad.

Louder environments increase stimulation and stress, making diners choose junk food like cheeseburgers and fries, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sciences.

"Restaurants and supermarkets can use ambient music strategically to influence consumer buying behaviour," said Dipayan Biswas, a professor at the University of South Florida in the US.

Overdoing junk food at a restaurant? Blame the music

Researchers conducted the study at a cafe in Sweden, which played various genres of music in a loop separately at 55 and 70 decibels.

The menu items were coded as healthy, non-healthy and neutral, the category used for items like coffee or tea.

During the experiment conducted over several hours across multiple days, researchers found 20 per cent more restaurant patrons ordered something unhealthy when exposed to louder ambient music compared to those who dined during a quieter time.

While previous studies have looked at varying aspects of ambience's impact on food sales such as lighting, scent and decor, this is the first study to look specifically at how volume dictates healthy vs non-healthy food choices.

These findings allow restaurant managers to strategically manipulate music volume to influence sales.
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