Can loud music make you choose Junk Food?

Young people chatting and drinking at a table in a restaurant

It is a well-known fact that music can affect the mood you are in. But, can the volume of it affect the choices you make?

Just think of your favourite songs and how they make you feel at certain moments in your life. When you’re listening to something that moves you in any way, the brain releases dopamine, a chemical that is involved in both motivation and addiction – this, in turn, elicits a reaction from you, like happiness, sadness, anger, irritation, peacefulness and more. It therefore stands to reason that the volume at which the music is played will have an influence on your mood and actions too.

Recently, a study was done to look at the effects of playing loud music in a restaurant, as opposed to calm music. The result? Customers consumed more, and tended to choose more of the less healthy food and drink options than the healthy ones.

The noise effect – loud music vs. calm music

It’s been proven that volume directly impacts arousal and heart rate: soft music tends to calm us down, while loud music amps us up. If you’ve noticed that restaurants seem to be getting louder and louder, it’s no coincidence. In some instances, it might just be a case of the chef or restaurant owner wanting to play the music that they love to hear, at the volume that they want to hear it. However, most commentators agree that, for the most part, there is an ulterior motive: the bottom line. Take the legendary Hard Rock Café for example. They quickly realised that when fast, loud music was being played, the patrons talked less and left quicker – but, more importantly, they ate more, drank more and spent more. For the owners, it was like music to their ears.

Conversely, when soothing music is being played, we tend to have better self-control, resulting in smarter choices regarding the types of food we consume. But, in the excitement of loud music, we tend to make more impulsive decisions, like choosing burgers instead of salads, or more tequila shots over that glass of water.

Pump up the volume, pump up the consumption

The effects of music
Source: Pexels

There is even a theory that loud music can actually change the taste or flavour of the food and drinks you are consuming.  It may even take longer for you to distinguish the alcohol content of a particular beverage. Recent studies have shown us that loud music can have a substantial, and often negative, impact on a person’s enjoyment and perception of the meal that is before them.

In the case of fine dining, this is probably not the desired effect a restaurateur would want – rather, playing calming music would make more sense in order to create the ambience for an elegant night out. That said, famous chefs like Mario Batali and David Chang pumped up the volume in their restaurants to lure in younger crowds that enjoyed the boisterous vibe. Similarly, think about how TV ads target consumers – in the case of fast-food chain ads, they also tend to pair vibrant music and people with tempting food imagery, and have been proven to trigger junk-food cravings in teenagers.

In short, the volume of the music played can either attract or deter – it depends on who exactly the owners want to target and what kind of restaurant or bar they wish to cultivate.

The louder, the better?

Whether you like loud music or not, there is no doubt that you’ve experienced the effect of it in a bar, club, or restaurant. The more amped up it gets, the more amped up you get…in the end, you either flee or you stay – in most cases eating more, drinking more and spending more. It’s a pretty smart marketing tactic that an increasing number of restaurateurs are adapting.

So, the next time you think it’s getting louder in your favourite restaurant, it’s no mistake – that restaurant is eyeing the bottom line and there’s about to be a whole lot more eating, drinking and spending. If all this talk is making you a little hungry or thirsty, don’t worry – Lucky Nugget has some brilliant online casino games that are themed around just that. Best of all, they won’t expand your waistline in the process and volume control is totally up to you.

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