THE last chocolate tastes the best because knowing something is set to end makes people enjoy it more, a study has found.

Psychologists discovered that people become “motivated” when they know an experience is about to be completed.

The University of Michigan study found that this led to a person thinking the experience would end happily. The findings, reported in the journal Psychological Science, could add weight to the saying “leaving the best for last”.  “Endings affect us in lots of ways and one is this ‘positivity effect,” said researcher Ed O’Brien, who led the study. “It is something motivational. You think ‘I might as well reap the benefits of this experience even though it is going to end’ or ‘I want to get something good out of this while I still can’. “It is also possible that we have become used to expecting endings to be happy.”  He added: “When you simply tell people something is the last, they may like that thing more.”  In their study, the fed 52 male and female students five small chocolates of different flavours before asking them to rate their enjoyment as they ate.

The flavours were ranked in different orders with some volunteers being told the chocolate was their last while others received no such warning.  The study found those with the warnings found the last chocolate tastier than others. Asked which chocolate was their favourite, those which knew chose it on more than two in three occasions. In contrast, those who were unaware rated it top in only 22 per cent of cases.  Mr O’Brien, a graduate student in social psychology, said that due to the chocolates being rated individually, rather than all together at the end of the experiment, meant the results could not be explained by difference in recall.                         –TG