Monday, June 05, 2006


why coffee is the most social beverage

"australian researchers found that after consuming moderate amounts of caffeine, volunteers were more likely to agree with persuasive arguments. . . .

it was previously believed that caffeine made someone open to persuasion by improving mood.

but the australian research ruled out the emotional theory. caffeine had a pronounced effect only when volunteers were forced to focus on and assimilate the persuasive argument.

the scientists wrote in the european journal of social psychology: 'our results are consistent with the hypothesis that moderate amounts of caffeine increase central route processing.' "

the persuasive argument part is interesting -- this is why coffee stimulates discussion and reflection -- but how it does it seems most interesting to me. coffee just makes your brain process rational information better, it seems.

but i'm sure dear readers that your question is the same as mine: what the heck is central route processing? apparently, this concept comes from certain theories about how the brain handles information:

"the elaboration likelihood model, or elm (petty & cacioppo, 1981; 1986), and the heuristic-systematic model, or hsm (eagly & chaiken, 1993) each posit two routes to persuasion: the central, or systematic, route and the peripheral, or heuristic, route. central route processing involves careful evaluation of a persuasive message and results in relatively stable attitude shifts that are predictive of behavior.

central route processing most closely parallels the conscious thought processes that elster defines as intentional behavior. the second processing route, on the other hand, involves processing that may be conscious but is less deliberate. peripheral route processing does not involve careful evaluation of the message. instead, attitudes are formed based solely on the recognition of positive or negative 'heuristic cues.'"

heavy stuff here. but i think this means that coffee helps you evaluate arguments in a systematic manner, in an intentional way, with a brain method that won't just leave the gossamer wisps of a passing fancy but instead marks lasting pathways to actual deliberate action.

this might explain why historically coffee drinkers, not wine sippers, are the ones who go on to found stock markets, daily newspapers, modern banking, political parties, insurance companies, mercantile networks, and contemporary democracy. these are all definite, intentional social actions.

and it appears that perhaps it is in the nature of coffee itself to effect our brains in this positive way. just when i think coffee can't be even more interesting, that we coffee lovers have an understanding of all its aspects in life -- another completely different and fascinating door opens on our favorite beverage. . .

posted by fortune | 8:23 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 2 comments

Links to this post:

Create a Link