Youth talk

May 15 - 21, 2019

Gulf Weekly Youth talk

For those of us fasting in the holy month and missing that daily cuppa, or anyone looking to reduce their coffee consumption really, I’ve got news for you! 

A study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition has revealed that simply looking at coffee enables one to become more attentive as though actually drinking the sweet stuff!

The study, led by Sam Moglio, assistant professor of marketing at Toronto University, tested around 342 participants from both Eastern and Western cultures by exposing them to tea and coffee-related cues.

The results were analysed in four separate groups, and it was found that participants, particularly those from Western cultures, exposed to coffee cues experienced an increase in alertness, just by being made to think of it. They were able to think in ‘more concrete, precise terms’ and perceived time as going by faster than those who consumed tea.

Interestingly, this effect wasn’t as pronounced in those participants hailing from East Asia as people there, where tea is the preferred hot beverage, don’t have as strong an association between coffee and focus as their Western counterparts.  

“In North America we have this image of a prototypical executive rushing off to an important meeting with a triple espresso in hand,” Maglio said. “There’s this connection between drinking caffeine and arousal that may not exist in other cultures.”

This study illustrated perfectly the psychological phenomenon known as priming wherein exposure to a reminder of a stimulus produces the same effects as direct contact with that stimulus, such as the sight of a tasty meal kicking your salivary glands into action or a photograph of a cute animal arising positive emotions as if that animal were right there with you.

And really, this forms the premise of the study’s results – many coffee drinkers have in their minds such a strong association between coffee and concentration that simply looking at it produces tangible physiological effects of alertness. If this rings true to you, then a picture of some java is all it takes!

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