Study Explores How People Respond to Gum Chewing

Picture someone, anyone, chewing gum. Now, what’s your first impression of that person? Do you think they’re popular among their peers, a slacker, maybe just a more laid back person? Do you think they’re mean, conniving, or thoughtless in nature?

These are all impressions one MIGHT get from someone gnawing at a piece of chewing gum, but it really depends on your personal experience.

Chewing gum company, Beldent, wanted to find out what all those initial reactions to gum chewers meant. Did people favor those who chewed or not? Were they intimidated by them or drawn to them? A social experiment was in order!

In 2013, the company set up an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Buenos Aires to get to the bottom of these notions. The exhibit consisted of pairs of people – but not just any people, identical twins.

One twin was given a piece of gum to chew while the other just stared silently ahead. Basically, the only detail that set them apart was whether or not their jaw was moving.

People who came to check out the exhibit were asked to sit in front of the twins to answer some questions. In front of each participant were two buttons, one for each twin. When one button was pressed, say for the twin on the right, a light would flick on next to the twin on the right, indicating your answer.

Then the questions began.

Participants were asked things like, “Who is invited to more parties?” and “Which of these bosses would fire you if you asked for a raise?” Each inquiry required them to make a snap judgment about these near-identical people that you don’t know at all. They were just going based off of how the twins looked and what their gut says about them.

Well, the results were fairly overwhelming.

481 people participated in the experiment and the results found that 73% of those people favored the twin that was chewing gum. The research revealed that people had overall more positive impression of the gum-chewing twin; they thought them more popular, nicer, and even more generous than their sibling.

How interesting! Is that the impression you got between these twins? Make sure to share with us what YOUR impressions were and how you felt about this fascinating social experiment.