Want to enjoy a good sunset, marvel at an architectural triumph, or take in Willie Nelson’s latest hit? Well, you might have a better time if you aren’t in the presence fast food. That’s right, you don’t even need to be eating it—the mere presence of fast food might make you enjoy life a bit less.
A new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that exposure to fast food led to a tendency not to savour experiences. Researchers conduced three experiments. In the first, they examined the concentration of fast food restaurants in the neighbourhoods of 280 participants, who completed a survey on their tendency to savour pleasant experiences. In the second, participants were shown images of McDonald’s food, either in its packaging or on a neutral plate. Some participants then viewed beautiful nature pictures, but some did not. In the final experiment, some participants viewed fast food photographs and some did not, and then they all listened to an aria.
The researchers found that in all three experiments, there was an association between the presence of fast food and the inability to enjoy experiences. For the first experiment, researchers found that the participants living in neighbourhoods with a high concentration of fast food weren’t as likely to enjoy simple pleasures as those living around less fast food. In the second experiment, participants were less able to enjoy the nature photographs. In the final experiment, participants to viewed fast food images prior to listening to the aria thought that the aria seemed longer than it really was, suggesting that they were more impatient than those who hadn’t viewed the fast food images.
So, want to savour life? Maybe take yourself out of the shadow of the golden arches.