Does the price you pay at a buffet influence how much you like the food?
Surprisingly, yes! In a new Cornell Food and Brand Lab study published in the
Journal of Sensory Studies, researchers found that when charged more for an
all-you-can-eat buffet, diners rated the food higher than when charged less for
the same food.
In the study, conducted by researchers David Just PhD., Ozge Sigirci, and
Brian Wansink PhD. author of the forthcoming book, Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, 139 diners in an Italian
all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant were either charged $4 or $8 for the lunch
buffet. The buffet offered pizza, salad, breadsticks, pasta, and soup. After
finishing, diners were asked to rate the taste of the pizza and how much
they enjoyed the dining experience on a 9 point scale.
“People set their expectation of taste partially based on the price – and it
becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I didn’t pay much it can’t be that good.
Moreover, each slice is worse than the last. People really ended up regretting
choosing the buffet when it was cheap,” says Just.
Read: Healthy eating is costly in the US
Diners who paid the higher price for the buffet rated the
pizza as being 11% tastier. In contrast, those paying $4, half as
much for the same food, not only enjoyed the pizza less, but they enjoyed the
food less and less with each additional piece of pizza. In both situations
diners ate an average of three slices of pizza.
Based on these findings the researchers recommend that buffet owners think
twice before setting a low buffet cost, even though cheap all-you-can-eat
buffets are popular, people tend to stick to the “you get what you pay for”
mentality and will rate the food lower in quality.
According to Wansink, there's also news you can use if you're a consumer,
"Avoid cheap all-you-can-eat buffets. Go to the most expensive buffet you
can afford. You’ll eat the same amount but enjoy the experience and the food
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Image: Man eating pizza from Shutterstock