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Organic Food Makes People Jerks, Study

Update Date: Feb 18, 2013 01:32 PM EST

People who buy organic food are significantly less likely to be kind and helpful to other people, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, revealed that eating organic food appears to make people feel more secure about their own morals, leading them to judge behavior more harshly.

However, researchers from Loyola University in New Orleans found that people who eat comfort food like chocolate tend to be kinder and more social with others.

The study involved 63 students divided into three groups. The first group of students were given an envelop of images of organic apples, spinach, tomatoes and carrots with organic labels. The second group was given a packet of images of ice cream, cookies, chocolate and brownies, while the third group looked at pictures of oatmeal, rice, mustard and beans.

After the students looked at the pictures, they were given details of six moral story scenarios such as a politician taking bribes or a student stealing books from the library.

When the students thought the study had finished, they were told that a professor from another department was looking for volunteers willing to spare half an hour without any reward.

The results indicated that students exposed to organic fruit and vegetables agreed to spare an average of 13 minutes, while those who saw the comfort food were happy to give the professor 25 minutes and those in the third group were willing to spare 20 minutes.

Researchers also found that people were more willing to help others after eating something sweet, whereas people who tasted something disgusting became tougher on moral judgments.

"The possibility is that those who simply purchase organic products will be less likely to engage in other meaningful acts of environmental protection," researcher Dr. Kendall Eskine and colleagues wrote in the study.

"Although organic products are indubitably environmentally sound and ethical choices, perhaps milder, more subtle advertisements could help promote the beneficial qualities of these products without inadvertently inducing moral licensing in its consumers," they added.

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