Lead researcher Adriana Madzharov, Ph.D., split 45 participants into two groups. One half ate a cube of cheese with a toothpick while the other half didn’t use any utensils at all.
Before the experiment, both groups had relatively similar opinions about the cheese. Afterwards, however, most participants in the direct-touch group reported the snack to be tastier and more satisfying than their toothpick-wielding peers - compelling them to consume more of it.
One caveat: people with low levels of self-control didn’t experience any altered perception, regardless of whether or not they used a utensil.
"These two groups do not appear to process sensory information in the same way," Madzharov said in a statement. "Our results suggest that for people who regularly control their food consumption, direct touch triggers an enhanced sensory response, making food more desirable and appealing."
The main takeaway? Using the senses we can manipulate our self-control. Something to consider next time you find yourself nearing the end of the peanut butter jar.