A recent study conducted by researchers at the University Of Colorado and published in the Journal of Consciousness and Cognition on March 27th proposes that merely being reminded of coffee or tea can provide boots to focus and alertness.
“This has a number of implications for how people process information and make judgments and decisions.” says the study’s coauthor, Sam Maglio.
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The studied effects of “priming”
The phenomenon is called “priming.” Priming occurs when exposure to a stimulant effectively informs behavioral reactions and thoughts. These can be induced semantically, conceptually, or perceptually. More broadly, psychologists have explored the influence images have on our evaluation of concepts like politics.
As Psychology Today reports, “Priming in a more general sense, still matters, such as when people use contextual cues during a conversation to interpret the meaning of ambiguous language.”
But how profound can association effects be in more specific instances? Magilo and his colleagues wanted to know if the mere associations made via coffee-related cues could induce any degree of arousal effects without consumption.
The researchers began by conducting four separate studies, examining both tea and coffee related-cues across a wide range of individuals from eastern and western cultures. Their analyst yielded fascinating results.
“People who experience physiological arousal – again, in this case as the result of priming and not drinking coffee itself – see the world in more specific, detailed terms,” explains Magilo
In psychology, arousal refers to the state of active alertness and attentiveness usually triggered by a number of environmental, neurological or dietary factors.
The strength of the results seemed to be dependent on how pervasive coffee culture was within its respective region. For example, arousal based on coffee and tea related cues was not as strong in eastern civilizations as it was with participants residing in the west. Magilo comments,
“In North America, we have this image of a prototypical executive rushing off to an important meeting with a triple espresso in their hand. There’s this connection between drinking caffeine and arousal that may not exist in other cultures.”
Magilo intends to conduct further research to disclose the effects of associations with other kinds of foods and beverages.
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