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November 07, 2010

Study: We Don't Value What We Don't Have to Work For

Interesting study of the week:

Maybe your dad said, “The harder you work for something, the more you’ll appreciate it.” Well, father really did know best. Because a new study finds that the harder mice have to work for a treat, the better it tastes. The research appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. [Alexander Johnson and Michela Gallagher, "Greater effort boosts the affective taste properties of food"]

Mice were trained to push levers to get either of two rewards. Press one lever, out comes a drop of sugar water. Press the other and they get a drop of different tasting sugar water.

Then things got interesting. For one of the treats, scientists gradually increased the amount of effort required for the payoff—from one lever-press to five, then 10, then 15. So by the end of the session, one type of sugar water cost 15 times more effort than the other.

Question of the day: now that this rather obvious truism has been validated by the "experts", can we finally stop trying to make everything easy and equal and just admit that challenges often improve the quality of our lives (not to mention helping us appreciate what we have).

Posted by Cassandra at November 7, 2010 10:02 AM

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Anyone that has studied the mating rituals of the human animal already knew that.

Posted by: RRRoark at November 7, 2010 12:06 PM