Washington: Material things, like money and sports cars, can literally make our mouth water, according to a new study.
Lead author David Gal of Northwestern University set out to find whether people actually salivate when they desire material things.
The answer, Gal found, is yes. In one study, for example, Gal examined whether people salivated in response to money.
In the experiment, the author measured salivation by having participants put cotton dental rolls in their mouths while they gazed at pictures of money. He later weighed the rolls to measure the amount of saliva.
Before they viewed money, however, Gal prepared the participants to feel powerful or to feel that they lacked power.
“The main result of the experiment was that participants salivated to money (relative to baseline), but only when they were in a low-power state,” Gal said.
Next, Gal wondered whether men would salivate to high-end sports cars. Instead of looking at their perceived power, he induced some of the men to have a “mating goal,” because prior research has shown that men who want to impress women purchase conspicuous luxury goods.
Gal showed the men photos of attractive women and asked them to choose one they would like to date. Gal asked the other group of men to ponder a visit to the barber. The men with the active mating goal salivated more at images of high-end sports cars than the men who had been prompted to imagine getting a haircut.
“This suggests that people salivate to non-food items when those are items are desired to fulfil a highly active goal,” Gal said.