How many of us haven’t been through the embarrassment of the “Happy Birthday” song before eating cake? As it turns out, the song serves a purpose.
According to NBC News, a new study came out that says embarrassing your friends by singing the Happy Birthday song in unison before taking a bite of the cake actually makes the experience more delightful.
We found that people’s attention is piqued when they perform a ritual and that helps them to be more involved in what they are eating or drinking,” said Kathleen D. Vohs, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, and lead author of the new study, in an email. “Even new rituals – that people never had done before – when done before eating or drinking make food taste better.”
It seems that we’re wired to enjoy anything that makes us feel more involved with whatever we’re about to do, according to the study, and rituals (whether praying, singing, clinking glasses, or just outright dancing) are the way to achieve that goal.
The reason why we enjoy food and drink more when we go through a system of rites first appears to be that we like to feel more involved in what we’re consuming. “Rituals seem to improve the consumption experience because they lead to greater involvement and interest,” the authors write in the paper published this month in the journal Psychological Science. “When people perform a ritual, their intrinsic interest increases, which in turn leads to more enjoyable consumption.”
So next time someone decides to surprise you with a birthday song, brush off the embarrassment and enjoy the moment.
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