Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?

Tipping points

New research from Austria suggests that playing either upbeat or sad music can increase the amount of tips serving staff receive.

Neutral piano music has no effect but “uplifting music makes people happy and the better mood someone is in the more they tip. Melancholic music nurtures people’s helping behaviour. The manipulated customers want to hep the serving staff with higher  tips than usual” says Annika Beer a psychologist at the University of Innsbruck.

The tipping effect applied particularly to older customers, perhaps because they listen to less music than younger people, or it could be that younger people have less disposable income.

The experiment was carried out in quite an upmarket restaurant where the average bill for two people was about £90 (the average tip was £3.50 more under the experimental condition).

There has been other research on tipping behaviour suggesting that waitresses who wear red lipstick do better and touching the customer’s hand as you give them the bill can increase tips.

There is also research that suggests that playing faster music will make customers finish their meals quicker – obviously an ideal in fast food restaurants.

Mirror, mirror on the wall..

Reblogged with your New Year resolutions in mind…


looking_in_mirror_1600_wht_5647Who is eating most of all?

Scientists are interested in factors that influence how much people eat.

Previous research has shown that the size of plates, even their colour can have an effect. As can background sounds e.g. the sounds of the sea makes fish tastier.

Eating with a fork rather than a spoon (which makes people underestimate their meals), using paper plates or even giving people toys with their meals can make them accept smaller portions.

On of the latest ideas is putting up a mirror in the dining room so you can see a reflection of what you are eating. Given a choice of chocolate cake or a fruit salad those eating in front of a mirror enjoyed the chocolate cake less (those eating fruit salad were unaffected).

Researchers at the University of Florida where the experiment took place said that having a mirror in the room makes diners…

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Give me the chocolate and nobody gets hurt

Don't dig your grave with your own knife and fork

IMG_6041Waking up to the most annoying sound of my alarm clock in the early Saturday morning with a smile on my face can mean only one thing – chocolate is going to be involved! Fully using all the benefits of being journalism student in London, I received a press pass from wonderful Sarah Tickle, who I thank very much, to the world’s largest chocolate show – Salon du Chocolat.It took place in London’s National Hall, Olympia from 18th to 20th of October 2013.

image-3Although I have so much to tell you about this unforgettably aromatic exhibition, I think that this time, pictures will speak for themselves more than my words of gastronomic amazement, I type while drooling over my keyboard.

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Gardening for peace and love



From Hippie Peace Freaks

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Seattle’s First Urban Food Forest Will Be Open To Foragers

Now, Washington state has jumped on the foraging bandwagon with plans to develop a 7-acre public plot into a food forest. The kicker? The lot sits smack in the middle of Seattle.

The idea is to give members of the working-class neighborhood of Beacon Hill the chance to pick plants scattered throughout the park – dubbed the Beacon Food Forest. It will feature fruit-bearing perennials —  apples, pears, plums, grapes, blueberries, raspberries and more.

A Food Forest is a gardening technique or land management system that mimics a woodland ecosystem but substitutes in edible trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. Fruit and nut trees are the upper level, while below are berry shrubs, edible perennials and annuals. Companions or beneficial plants are included to attract insects for natural pest management while some plants…

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Airlines’ ripoff charges

luggage_passport_ticket_1600_wht_8353You probably know about Ryanair charging for hold luggage – £35 for a 15kg bag during peak periods, a measly allowance compared to most airlines which allow at least 20kg, for which Ryanair charges £45.

But the trend is now to charge you for hand luggage as well! Hungarian Wizz Air were the first charging €10 but US airlines have taken over .

Frontier Airlines charges between £16 and £64 depending on whether you pay on-line or at the airport (Ryanair started that little trick with boarding passes I think) as do Allegiant and Spirit airlines.

Which! Travel‘s latest report shows that the cost of luggage can exceed the cost of a ticket, especially if you have oversize luggage or sports equipment.

Ryanair is by far the worst charging £140 if you exceed the 10kg hand luggage allowance – which is the lowest of any airline. And their exchange rate is £1 = €1.

And they charge you between£19 and £30 for the pleasure of carrying your baby.

Booking fees can mount up too with Easyjet charging £10 for one person and Aer Lingus and Ryanair £7 a person

But everyone’s at it even British Airways. And gone are the days when you could get a free beer or glass of wine in economy class with your food (if you still get food) and airline food typically has over a 2000% markup compared with supermarket prices.

Even my favourite airline Finnair now charges for a glass of Lapland Gold beer!