The call of the cookies: priming and how it affects yousteemCreated with Sketch.

in psychology •  last year


Yesterday, as I was walking by the kitchen on my way to get a book from the living room, I was stopped short by the box of cookies on the dining table. I wasn't hungry, but when I saw the box of cookies, I suddenly had the urge to eat one.

My experience with the cookies reminded me of a term I had read about before - "priming." According to Wikipedia,

Priming is an implicit memory effect in which exposure to one stimulus (i.e., perceptual pattern) influences the response to another stimulus.

In other words, what you see, smell, hear, taste, or think about first affects how you behave next.

For example, if you are hungry and you see this puzzle "so_p," you are more likely to think of the word "soup." However, if you first saw a picture of a bathtub, you are more likely to fill in the word "soap."

In a separate study conducted in a supermarket where French and German music were played on alternate days, researchers found that shoppers bought more French wine when they heard French music, and more German wine when they heard German music. Next time you go shopping, you can try paying more attention to the music and displays there, to see if there is indeed subconscious priming taking place!

In the meantime, I will try to put the research findings to good use by more prominently displaying the healthier foods in our house (and hiding the less healthy ones). Scattering a few books on healthy eating around the house probably won't hurt either.

Good-bye cookies, hello blueberries!

Let me know if you think priming affects you too!



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@sizzlingmonkeys, I appreciate this post. It accurately describes my struggles with food. For me, eating can be more of habitual response to boredom or stress, instead of a need to overcome hunger.

Keep up the great content! I need it. following


Thank you for the encouragement! I read briefly in a book about practicing mindful eating. I forgot the title of the book as I was just browsing in a bookstore, but it mentioned something called "mouth hunger" which is when the mouth is hungry for stimulation but you are not actually hungry and "heart hunger" which is when you eat in response to an emotion, like eating something crunchy when you are upset or something sweet when you are sad. This website describes some different types of hunger:

Hey mate, good quality post. I have left you a message on Go check it out when you have time. =) Have a great day!


Thanks for the compliment. I saw your message on and I am going to see if my posts can continue to grow organically.


All good. Thanks for checking it out. Best of luck to you mate =)


Thanks for understanding. Best of luck to you too!

Who can't say no to cookies? I myself get some cookies from my son's supply :)

Yes, I'm vaguely familiar with "priming," mostly in a marketing context. On a more "real" level, we tend to be pretty good in this house since we make almost everything from scratch... so at least we reach for healthy diversions, most of the time!


That's great your family makes everything from scratch - sounds very healthy!

:) My strategy is to be very focused when I go to the supermarket.
If I never buy unhealthy food I won't have any unhealthy priming at home. I still do get weak though when shopping, but I am aware that the battle starts in the shopping mall.


Great strategy, ronni! It's the best when you don't even buy the tempting junk foods at all! The battle definitely starts in the shopping mall. I noticed also that if I'm hungry when I'm shopping, I'll tend to buy more unhealthy foods. Also if I go shopping with the kids, somehow more junk food finds its way home.

Who doesn't love cookies! I like when certain smells, songs, or sounds remind me of things in my past... always nice to reminisce. I am sure I react differently as well when I encounter different things like the Priming you mentioned. Thanks for sharing with us!


Exactly, smells are powerful reminders of our past! Thanks for giving me inspiration for my next post!


That is awesome @sizzlingmonkeys, I will be sure to check it out when you post it!

If you are into nature photography or gaming, check out my blog if you'd like!

Keep up the fun postings! :-)

ofcourse priming affects me too me, i just read this post and now am yearning for cookies,lol.


An unintentional effect, I assure you. 😉

And this is also why, when you want your girlfriend to be in a "good mood" in the evening, you put on some romantic music.


Good advice - it'll be useful when "girlfriend" becomes "wife" too. Beautiful music keeps everyone in a good mood!

Cookies are my weak point i can't get enough of it.


Me too, especially chocolate chip cookies.


ahaa that is my fav........

@sizzlingmonkeys I Never thought about it like this, but this is so true! I guess this is why we have so many ADs while driving and surfing the internet.

Proof that it works its for me already feeling when I look at your picture above, maybe its hard to believe it, but I can also smell it here... Unfortunately, its hard for me to feel the taste of it :D

That's why the brand Snapple has this pop noise when you open their bottles. They want you to associate that sound with opening their bottles!

Also, don't forget to be grateful to have cookies in your house! 🙃


That makes sense about Snapple - I never thought of it. I also read that the minty taste in toothpaste doesn't have any particular function, but toothpaste started selling like hotcakes after it tasted minty because people liked the after taste - it made their mouth "feel cleaner."

I'm gonna buy less cookies - they get eaten too fast by the kids and me! We are keeping more cherries and blueberries on hand instead to satisfy that sweet tooth.


Ahh learn something new everyday :)

hahaha I know how you feel.. I'm a cookie monster as well. Eating healthy though is always better for you long term! :) I love making orange juice popsicles... those are a fun treat. You just squeeze fresh juice and freeze it.

Also gave you a shout out on my latest post, because you are awesome :)

I miss you Sizzling! How are you?
It has been way too long since we last spoke..