One of the most popular and maligned trends to emerge with the advent of the smartphone is taking pictures of food.
Whether it's deconstructed junk food, avocado toast, or just plain old pizza, no meal is too trivial to be photographed from above by Instagrammers who are eager to immortalize their culinary adventures. If you don't 'gram it, it never happened.
With an estimated 300 million pics of food floating around on Instagram, it's no surprise that our smartphones are having a global impact on the way we interact with food. And it's not all bad either.
Aside from the total lack of etiquette involved with whipping out your phone in the middle of a meal to beef up your social media presence, it would seem that taking pictures of food can actually be good for your health.
In a study titled, "How consumer-generated images shape important consumption outcomes in the food domain," published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing, researchers looked at how consumer-generated images like Instagram photos influence the people taking them.
Surprisingly, it turns out that the key moment of bad manners when the photo is taken is just enough time to allow eaters to pace themselves and to impact their perception of it. By exposing participants in the study to both healthy and "indulgent" foods, researchers were able to evaluate the impact that photos have on the food's desirability.
"It is shown that producing consumer-generated images causes a momentary active delay in consumption, which increases the savoring associated with consumption of pleasurable (i.e. indulgent) foods and, in effect, increases attitudes and taste evaluations of the experience when consumption actually takes place," the marketing researchers wrote.
By extension, taking photos of healthy food can also increase the desire to eat well. "When descriptive social norms regarding healthy eating are made salient, consumer-generated images can also lead to more favorable outcomes for less pleasurable (i.e. healthy) foods," the authors wrote—that is, participants in the experiment were more interested in healthy food when they were exposed to photos of it.
While this research could be used to benefit consumer health, it will probably end up serving the marketing experts who undertook it. "The findings provide insight into the effects of consumers taking pictures of their food before consumption, a growing trend on social media sites (i.e. Instagram). Marketing managers can develop strategies to encourage their consumers to take pictures of their food," the study concluded.
Even if it pisses off your significant other or makes your parents roll their eyes, that overhead shot of your omelet is actually making it taste better. #themoreyouknow.