Photo: flickr/ciron810We know that fast food is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic in this country, but could it be decreasing our happiness in other ways as well? Here, a group of Canadian researchers tested the effects of exposure to fast food symbols on people's ability to savor pleasurable experiences (self-reported on a survey), to enjoy looking a photos of natural beauty, and to have positive responses to a beautiful melody (the first 86 s of “The Flower Duet” from the opera Lakmé). They found that simply living in a neighborhood with a high proportion of fast-food restaurants predicted people's tendencies to savor pleasurable experiences. Not only that, but being exposed to fast food icons ("the ultimate symbols of an impatience culture") made people derive less enjoyment from the beautiful photos and made the opera melody feel longer. Something to think about the next time you change neighborhoods.Too Impatient to Smell the Roses: Exposure to Fast Food Impedes Happiness "We tested whether exposure to the ultimate symbols of an impatience culture—fast food—undermines people’s ability to experience happiness from savoring pleasurable experiences. Study 1 found that the concentration of fast-food restaurants in individuals’ neighborhoods predicted their tendencies to savor. Study 2 revealed that exposure to fast-food primes impeded participants’ ability to derive happiness from pictures of natural beauty. Study 3 showed that priming fast food undermined positive emotional responses to a beautiful melody by inducing greater impatience, measured by both subjective perception of time passage and self-reports of impatience experienced during the music. Together, these studies show that as pervasive symbols of impatience, fast food can inhibit savoring, producing negative consequences for how we experience pleasurable events."
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