October 15, 2013

Sensory boredom

Posted by: in Things To Watch

Recent research from Brigham Young University is garnering buzz for the finding that “Instagram can ruin your dinner,” as BYU’s press release puts it. The study by two marketing professors concludes that overexposure to food imagery on social media increases satiation (a decline in enjoyment with repeated consumption). Thus, explains co-author Ryan Elder, “In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food. It’s sensory boredom—you’ve kind of moved on.”

The phenomenon isn’t new—but the finding of sensory boredom in this context, and the growing emphasis on social media imagery, may mean that “being constantly switched on is turning us off,” as an Evening Standard columnist suggests. Richard Godwin writes that beyond food, “aesthetic ennui” is setting in and that thanks to visual overload, “stuff that used to seem quite fresh … is now a bit, like, meh.” —Marian Berelowitz

Image credit: Will Palley

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