There’s something about that last piece of cake or that last chocolate bar that is always enticing. According to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science, flavor doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with it. In all probability, what entices us more is the fact that it’s the last one of its kind.

To find out just how people are affected by this reversed save-the-best-for-last syndrome, researchers devised a simple experiment that involved chocolates of different flavors. The participants included 52 men and women who were told that they would be sampling Hershey’s Kisses made with local ingredients. There were five varieties—milk, dark, crème, caramel, and almond—randomly given to the participants. Not knowing how many there were, the volunteers were asked to rate the chocolates from 0 to 10.

Here is where the psychological experiment began. Some of the participants were given chocolates while being told, "This is the next one," all throughout until the last. Other participants received the same dialogue until the fifth chocolate, when the researchers said, "This is the last one."

The results showed people enjoyed the fifth chocolate the most--64 percent claimed that the last chocolate was their favorite regardless of flavor. Among those who were given only "This is the next one" lines, 22 percent still chose the fifth chocolate as their favorite. Overall, those who were warned that the fifth was the last chocolate they were going to get found they enjoyed the whole experiment more than their counterparts.

This phenomenon has such interesting implications. Imagine if you changed the setting from a simple chocolate test to an interview session. Would the last applicant in make a better impression? How about when it comes to dating? While nothing is 100 percent conclusive, this study suggests that coming in last may not always be a bad thing.


For more psychological studies, check these out on FN:

(Photo by oskay via Flickr Creative Commons)

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