Feeling restless? Dissatisfied? Unhappy? Does the wonder of nature leave you cold? Does beautiful music bore you?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you may be a victim of fast food culture. In fact, a new study finds, you don’t even have to eat at McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Jack In The Box or Taco Bell.
All you have to do is look at fast food advertising and you start feeling edgy and down.
The study comes out of the University of Toronto and is titled, “Too Impatient to Smell the Roses: Exposure to Fast Food Impedes Happiness.”
The name pretty much says it all. Merely being reminded to think about fast food gets in the way of your ability to enjoy life, the study, involving three separate tests consisting of 659 people, has found.
"We’ve built up these associations of speed and instant gratification with fast food. So even subtle reminders of these products make us want to get through things quicker,” said the paper’s lead author, researcher Sanford E. DeVoe, a Stanford Ph.D. who is Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management at UT’s Rotman School of Management. “Exposure to fast food makes us more impatient, and this can impact our experience of moments in which we stop to smell the roses.”
The first of the three experiments studied people who lived in areas with a high density of fast food joints and their flashy, enticing logos. DeVoe and his fellow researchers found that these people became impaired in their ability to savor life experiences. In other words, the more fast food signs you see, the more impatient with life you get.
The next test involved subjects looking at a series of photographs — supposedly to rate their effectiveness as advertising — then immediately recording their level of happy feelings. One group viewed photos of fast food and fast food restaurant logos.
A second group looked at the same fast food photos, but followed that up with a series of photographs depicting scenes of unspoiled nature.
Some of them viewed both sets of photos.
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While the people who looked at nature photos reported feeling happier, the subjects who looked at nature photos after looking at fast food shots reported less happiness than those who viewed the nature photos alone.
Finally, the researchers did basically the same test again, except this time letting subjects listen to a beautiful piece of classical music instead of viewing nature photos. The results were similar.
The people who looked at fast food photos grew bored of the music more quickly than those who didn’t, and also reported lower levels of happiness.
DeVoe hopes that once people understand the effect their fast-food saturated environment has on them, they’ll be able to fight the urge to speed through life without enjoying what the world has to offer.
“Fast food is so pervasive. You’re just driving to work and are bombarded by signs and advertisements for it,” said DeVoe. “It’s a real, real challenge. But hopefully having an awareness of this effect can give you greater ability to check yourself.”
SOURCES: The Province, Pacific Standard Magazine, Social Psychological and Personality Science