A study has found some men believe nice food tastes better when it is served up by someone pretty, although a handsome waiter makes no difference to women.
This, scientists say, is because physically attractive women can change mens’ expectations about what they are about to experience in a restaurant.
Canadian researchers found men rated what they had as more delicious when it was brought by a woman wearing make-up with her hair down, as opposed to a tired-looking woman with bad skin and her hair up.
When shown pictures of attractive women, they thought a glass of orange juice was sweeter, less bitter and more likeable.
An attractive woman raised their expectations of a dining experience even before sitting down to eat.
The research, by the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University in Canada, states: ‘The current research shows that the presence of physically attractive individuals can affect consumers’ expectations about their consumption experience which then influences taste perceptions.’
The authors, led by Dr Lily Lin, add: ‘When the server is attractive, good food tastes better but bad food tastes worse.’
Men were shown by the study to be more shallow than women, after rating the attractiveness of waiting staff as more important for enjoying a meal.
A survey of 195 people of both sexes found women were far more interested in the location and noisiness of the restaurant.
In a follow-up experiment of 603 people, men shown pictures of an attractive waitress at a restaurant, and then the menu, rated their expected dining experience more highly than if the waitress was unattractive.
The attractiveness of the waiters had no impact on women’s expectations of their meal.
Men rated the juice as less bitter, sweet and nicer when looking at an attractive woman. The study suggests there is a ‘spill over’ effect, so looking at someone attractive makes food more attractive too.
But restaurants should beware that a good-looking waitress can make the food taste worse if it is bad.
Men given the vegetable spread disliked it more when looking at a beautiful woman, perhaps because of the mismatch between her looks and its taste.
The study, published in the Journal of Retailing, also found men given the vegetable spread cracker by a woman wearing lipstick and mascara, with her hair down, rated it as more delicious on a scale of one to 15.
They liked it less when served by a woman made up to look as if she had acne, eye bags and yellow teeth, with her hair up.