Examines the curious fact that people eat foods that hurt, and that their motivations for doing so are usually different than the ones they believe to be true.
Why do people eat hot chili peppers? To a psychologist this question is interesting as an
example of motivation, with the potential to illustrate the influences that account for the
initiation, intensity, and persistence of behavior. The question is also interesting because
it shows us that, in some cases, the reasons for our behavior may not be what we believe
them to be.
For example, seasoned fans of hot peppers are apt to tell you that they eat them for their
flavor. However, this is not technically correct, or at least it cannot be the whole story,
for the substance in peppers that makes them hot – a substance called capsaicin, which
we can detect in solutions as dilute as one part per million - is not something that we
taste. Rather, it is something that irritates nerve cells in the skin, mouth, throat, and nose,
resulting in pain. Similarly, the assertion that peppers’ heat accentu...
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