Food for thought: Expensive meals taste better, study finds

New research shows price really can impact how food tastes — at least at the all-you-can eat buffet.

In a study published in the Journal of Sensory Studies, diners who paid $8 rather than $4 at a lunch buffet said their food was 11 percent tastier.

About 140 people dined at the same Italian restaurant, which served pizza, salad, breadsticks, pasta and soup. When they finished their meals, diners rated the pizza on a nine-point scale.

Diners who paid the lower price not only reported that their food was less satisfying, but they also enjoyed each additional slice of pizza less than those who paid more. Diners in both groups ate an average of three slices of pizza.

“People set their expectation of taste partially based on the price — and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” study co-author David Just, an applied economics and management professor at Cornell University, said in a news release.

Study co-author Brian Wansink, a marketing professor at Cornell, advised restaurants against setting too-low prices in an effort to attract more customers. Consumers, on the other hand, are likely to find their meals more appetizing at higher-end buffets, he said.

“Go to the most expensive buffet you can afford,” Wansink said. “You’ll eat the same amount but enjoy the experience and the food more.”