Healthy living

Last chocolate tastes best

Why the last chocolate tastes the best Ending leads to 'positivity effect'

The best tasting chocolate is the last one in the box, a study has found.

Knowing an experience is about to come to an end makes people enjoy it even more, psychologists from the University of Michigan said.

"Endings affect us in lots of ways, and one is this 'positivity effect,'" said researcher Ed O'Brien.

"It's something motivational. You think, 'I might as well reap the benefits of this experience even though it's going to end,' or 'I want to get something good out of this while I still can.'

"When you simply tell people something is the last, they may like that thing more."

In the study, 52 students were asked to pick five chocolates of different flavours in random order from a hidden pocket inside a bag, and rank how much they enjoyed it on a scale of one to ten. Some of the students were told when they were about to eat the last chocolate, while others were not given any warning.

The 'last' chocolate was found to be the favourite among the students 64 per cent of the time, regardless of the flavour, the study found.

Among the students who were unaware they were on their last chocolate, the last one was ranked favourite just 22 per cent of the time.

"Many experiences have happy endings – from the movies and shows we watch to dessert at the end of a meal – and so people may have a general expectation that things end well, which could bleed over into these insignificant or unrelated judgements," Mr O'Brien said.

But he added that the findings of the "little chocolate test" could have wider implications.

For example, the professor marking the last exam paper may give it a higher grade even if it's not as good as the ones previously marked.

And employers may be more inclined to give a job to the applicant who was interviewed last.

This article was published on Fri 10 February 2012

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