02 March 2012

It has been the subject of movies, books and music and described as the ultimate sign of love. But why is chocolate so irresistible to certain people and not others?

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) PhD researcher Stephanie Fay from the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) is looking for participants to help her solve this age-old question.

Ms Fay said her study would examine the way that different people perceive the taste of sweet foods such as chocolate, using questionnaires and skin conductance tests.

"We will be asking the participants to watch short videos as well as completing small tasks and answering an electronic questionnaire," Ms Fay said.

"We will be looking in particular to see if different personality types perceive things such as taste differently."

Ms Fay said subtle changes in the body would also be monitored to see the effect the sweet treat has on different people.

"Psychological arousal can be spotted in things like slight perspiration of the palms and very slight changes in the skin's moisture," Ms Fay said.

"Chocolate is obviously quite an emotive food and can have an effect on people that other foods don't.

"For some people it's a first line of support when things go wrong."

Ms Fay said she was hoping the study would eventually contribute to wider research about food preferences, eating behaviours and weight management.

"Aside from being tasty, chocolate is also very widely available," she said.

"It's often the first thing you see when you walk into some shops.

"We want to be able to understand why some people can walk straight past those displays and other people can't."

For more information on taking part in Ms Fay's study please email her at

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Media contact: Alita Pashley, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1841 or

IHBI PhD researcher Stephanie Fay is trying to figure out what makes a chocoholic a chocoholic