Aiming to see whether jealousy and love can affect people’s perception of taste, researcher Kai Qin Chan and his team conducted three experiments. In the first two, they asked 197 students to each write about an experience either with romantic love or with jealousy, or about a neutral topic. Next, they had the students taste either a sweet-and-sour gummy candy or bittersweet chocolates. After tasting the candies, the students ranked the treats’ sweetness, bitterness and sourness. The study found “those who had written about love ranked both candies as sweeter than those who had written about jealousy or a neutral topic. But writing about jealousy had no effect on rankings of bitterness.”
In the third and final experiment, the team repeated the study, except this time they asked 93 students to drink distilled water, telling them instead that it was a “new drink product.” The researchers then asked them to rate its sweetness, bitterness and sourness. “Again, love made the water taste sweeter—even though it had no real taste at all. Jealousy did not affect the water’s taste,” the study found.
Chan says the findings are important because the fact that even water tastes sweeter when people have love on the mind shows the brain isn’t telling the taste receptors on the tongue to become more sensitive to sugar—because there’s no sugar in the water to begin with. “Instead, the effect must arise from the brain’s processing of the taste information,” Chan says.
So obviously the only logical next step for is for you to go fall in love and eat a buffet dinner. “How sweet it is,” indeed.