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Rituals Enhance Consumption from – Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota & Harvard Business School, Harvard University-

Four experiments tested the novel hypothesis that ritualistic behavior potentiates and enhances ensuing consumption—an effect found for chocolates, lemonade, and even carrots. Experiment 1 showed that participants who engaged in ritualized behavior, compared with those who did not, evaluated chocolate as more flavorful, valuable, and deserving of behavioral savoring. Experiment 2 demonstrated that random gestures do not boost consumption as much as ritualistic gestures do. It further showed that a delay between a ritual and the opportunity to consume heightens enjoyment, which attests to the idea that ritual behavior stimulates goal-directed action (to consume). Experiment 3 found that performing a ritual oneself enhances consumption more than watching someone else perform the same ritual, suggesting that personal involvement is crucial for the benefits of rituals to emerge. Finally, Experiment 4 provided direct evidence of the underlying process: Rituals enhance the enjoyment of consumption because of the greater involvement in the experience that they prompt.

Read more – looks like you might need a log in to get the full text, however one quick search found it here. This is a neat trick we’ve all experienced, the ritual of making coffee (or a fancy pour-over place, Ritual Roasters in SF has ritual in the name) a tea set, opening up chocolate – these things can make whatever we’re eating and consuming better, this study shows how and why.

The conclusion has the following:

Rituals have a surprising degree of influence over how people experience what comes next. We examined the everyday experiences of eating and drinking in order to systematically test the effects of rituals on consumption, and consistently observed that consumption was more pleasurable than it would be otherwise. Because our results suggest that rituals can enhance the pleasure derived from even neutral stimuli (here, carrots), our results suggest that rituals could be put to use to make a wide variety of desirable behaviors – from eating healthily to exercising to practicing safe sex – more pleasurable. Rituals, then, might serve as a covert means to get people to do a little more of what makes life worth living.

Rituals, we should probably find ones that make things better for each of us, even for carrots.