Recent pain research now shows that distraction can actually heighten pain, claim the researchers that worked with this notion to investigate if pain research could be applied to pleasure research and, in particular, the act of tasting food.
"It appears that diversion actually leads to increased enjoyment," say study authors Baba Shiv of the University of Iowa and Stephen Nowlis of the Arizona State University.
Shiv and Nowlis presented a two-component model, which predicts that distraction may decrease subsequent choices for the sampled item.
The model asserts that the ultimate pleasure arising from the taste of a food sample depends on two components, one informational and the other affective.
Further, the model proposes that distraction increases (decreases) the impact on subsequent choice of the affective (informational) component.
"If findings in the domain of pain apply to the domain of pleasure as well, an implication would be that marketers ought to distract consumers rather than have them pay attention during the tasting experience," the authors explain.
Based on their findings from three experiments, the researchers suggest that marketers with samples in the food aisles could improve their chances of a sale by actually distracting the consumer during the tasting.
"This was exemplified in the study by diverting the attention of participants while eating chocolate," conclude the US researchers.
Full findings for the study are published in the December issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.