Is There a “Gestalt Bias” in Indulgence? Subjectively Constructing Food Units Into Wholes (vs. Parts) Increases Desire to Eat and Actual Consumption

In the present work we extend research into the unit bias effect and its extension—the portion size effect—by demonstrating the existence of a “Gestalt bias.” Drawing on the tenets of Gestalt psychology, we show that a unit bias effect can be observed for food portions that are composed of identical basic units, but which are subjectively grouped into, or perceived as a Gestalt—a larger whole. In three studies, we find that such subjectively constructed food wholes constitute a new (perceptual) unit that is perceived bigger than the units it is constructed from, thereby prompting increased eating and desire to eat.

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