Eating in the Dark: Although we eat Less, we Think we eat More


  • B. Renner
  • G. Sproesser
  • H. Schupp


Background: According to folk intuition, ‚Eye appeal is half the meal’. This raises the question how the absence of vision or ‘visual flavor’ affects food perception and intake (Linné et al., 2002; Wansink et al., 2005; see Spence & Piqueras-Fiszman, 2012). The present experiment assessed food experience, perceived and actual food intake in blindfolded and non-blindfolded participants. Methods: 82 students took part in bogus ice cream taste test and were randomly assigned to either the blindfolded or non-blindfolded condition. Taste perceptions were assessed during the taste test, and actual and perceived total amount of ice cream eaten measured afterwards. Findings: Overall, participants in the blindfolded condition rated the ice cream as being more unique and interesting; they had a significantly lower intake rate (gram/minute) and ate less ice cream (total gram), Fs (1, 81) > 25, p < .001. Although eating in the dark lead to a reduced actual intake, blindfolded participants overestimated their intake by 122% while non-blindfolded overestimated their intake only by 40%, F (1,81) = 8.82, p = .004. Conclusion: Depriving participants from visual input dissociated perceived from actual eating behavior. Shifting attention towards interoceptive cues of eating may provide unobtrusive and naturalistic means to change eating behavior.