Munch on This

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Self-righteousness is not new. But it hasn’t gone out of style, either — at least regarding moralistic dieters.

There’s even a study on it. In an article by Diane Mapes in Today’s Health, we learn “that organic food may just make people act a bit like jerks.”

Mapes focuses on the work of psychologist Kendall Eskine, who “noticed a lot of organic foods are marketed with moral terminology, like Honest Tea, and wondered if you exposed people to organic food, if it would make them pat themselves on the back for their moral and environmental choices. I wondered if they would be more altruistic or not.”

To find out, Eskine and his team divided 60 people into three groups. One group was shown pictures of clearly labeled organic food, like apples and spinach. Another group was shown comfort foods such as brownies and cookies. And a third group — the controls — were shown non-organic, non-comfort foods like rice, mustard and oatmeal. After viewing the pictures, each person was then asked to read a series of vignettes describing moral transgressions.

The results? Those merely exposed to organic foods judged moral transgressors more harshly, and, when it came to helping strangers, “the organic people also proved to be more selfish, volunteering” much less time than the control and comfort food groups offered.

According to the oft-cited “happiness paradox,” the more you fixate on happiness the less happy you become. With moral smugness, the more you fixate on the rightness of your choices, the less moral you become.

A general principle? A one-shot study that will gain no reproducible results?

In either case, it may be worth keeping an eye on . . . ourselves.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Oct
    29
    8:38
    AM
    James

    Well we certainly can’t have a lot of morally-upright people running around loose, now can we, Mr. Jacob? Folks behaving themselves and expecting their fellowman to do the same? Sheesh, what kind of mess would that be? Sounds like the early days of America, when the colonists could argue for self-government and actually demonstrate it was possible!

    None for me, thanks…Pass the brownies and let it all hang out!

    (I’m being sarcastic, by the way.)

  2. Oct
    29
    11:29
    AM
    Paulina West

    Thanks for the hilarity! (:

  3. Oct
    29
    3:16
    PM
    Jay

    What is to be of the nanny state?

    Bloomberg and hsi banning ( with the pliant NYC Council agreeing) giant sodas? Some foods; and SF worrying about HAPPY MEALS (TM-MC DONALD’S)?

    And Obama, et al worrying about people’s diets?

    By the way, what happeend to aprents? ( And common sense?)

    (In case you missed it, some person who ate 2 or more bags of microwave popcorn-sued for soem disease and was awarded some $7 million; hopefully, will eb overturned.

    2 or more bags of popcorn a day?

    Sounds like a lot to me.

  4. Nov
    4
    9:42
    AM
    Terry De Pew

    Somebody forgot the beer!? And where are my smokes?

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