Is this ramen tasty or not?
Is food tasty because it is... tasty? This question appears simultaneously stupid and suspicious at the same time.
If you have read the other chapter we had on food psychology, you'll know by now that the taste of food is dependent on other factors besides taste, and there are an unending number of examples to show this.
We probably all have experience with this.
Take my mom for example. She belongs to the group of folks who only likes Chinese food. So even if a great bowl of ramen is served, by default she would not like it.
But you can manipulate her assessment. Provide some heuristics (it’s expensive). Create cognitive dissonance (you know the Chef of xxx place you really like? He says this is his favourite food). Or through priming - watch a Japanese travel show before dinner with hosts cooing over their ramen. Or at a more technical level, a boost in oxytocin, or a sufficiently large amount of alcohol.
The assessment changes even though the ramen is the same.
But the real implication here is that Mom thinks she makes the assessment herself through conscious thought each time. Of course, she hasn’t.
And neither do we for probably every one of our decisions.