Self-refilling soup bowls: An idea whose time should never come

by Stephanie Chasteen on July 6, 2009

One of my favorite blogs, when I get a chance to actually read it, is Cognitive Daily.  They give you all sorts of wonderfully written tidbits and tests from the world of cognitive science.  Fascinating stuff.

A recent study highlighted on the blog — self-refilling soup bowls — concerned what happened to how much people ate when their soup bowls constantly refilled, versus having to wait for a server to refill them. They ate much more, and the idea is that when you don’t have a cue as to how much you’re eating, you eat more, because those perceptual cues tell us about our eating habits as much (more?) than our stomach does.

Check out the comments for some thoughtful and amusing discussion, such as:

I did see a similar study where they were providing hot wings to people watching a football game. They would continually clear away the dishes with bones from some people and not others. The people who had visual feedback from the bones nearby ate much less than the people who’s plates were kept clear.


I once got a friend drunk by swapping glasses with her every time hers contained less than mine did. Then when she noticed mine had less in, she’d drink to catch up… and then i’d wait til she wasn’t looking, and swap again. She didn’t stop drinking because she ‘wasn’t thirsty’ or because she was getting drunk, she was entirely basing her drinking on the visual cue from the amount left in the glasses..

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Captain Skellett July 7, 2009 at 3:00 am

Interesting stuff, I guess it’s similar to the idea of putting food on a larger plate to trick your mind into thinking you’ve eaten more?

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