Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Eat, Drink, and be Monitored

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the sacrifice-your-privacy-for-science dept.

Privacy 106

Ponca City, We Love You writes "A new restaurant has opened at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, fitted with a control center and two dozen hidden cameras devoted to exploring the question of what makes people eat and drink the way they do. Over the next 10 years, a team of more than 20 scientists will use the research facility to watch how people walk through the restaurant, what food catches their eye, whether they always sit at the same table and how much food they throw away. Researchers will examine environmental influences on eating behavior by making small changes in the color of the lights, in accompanying sounds, in the scents or the furniture. "We want to find out what influences people: colors, taste, personnel," said one researcher. "This restaurant is a playground of possibilities. We can ask the staff to be less friendly and visible or the reverse." University staff who want to eat at the new restaurant will have to sign a consent form agreeing to be watched."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Big question to be solved? (4, Funny)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709554)

Does THC increase or diminish food intake?

CC.

Re:Big question to be solved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21709716)

Short term: Increase (a.k.a "Munchies") Long term: Diminish (I've lost ~20kilos in 5 years, eating baaadly but smoking a _lot_)

Scum (-1, Troll)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709566)

Evil manipulative scumbags using public money to help restaurants figure out how to subvert our reason should be shot in the head for it. Propaganda is not ok.

Re:Scum (2, Insightful)

Yalius (1024919) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709640)

Subvert our reason? If our reason wasn't already subverted, this wouldn't work at all. Like it or not, your mind isn't as independent as you'd like to believe. It's already being influenced by thousands of external stimuli, and you have no idea how they're influencing you. Wouldn't you rather know what makes you choose the things you do, rather than leave it up to others to decide for you? At least, this is being researched publicly, so the results will be available. So the next time you walk into a restaurant and see that the carpeting as a burgundy instead of maroon, you'll know what it's supposed to make you decide. And face it, "they" can probably already play you like a drum whenever they feel like it. Your mind hasn't ever been your own. Ever since the first social environment arose, decisions and thinking have been made by groups, not individuals. Get used to it.

Re:Scum (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21709794)

But isn't the "thousands of external stimuli" a reason why this type of study is so problematic in the first place? This study assumes people are non-individuals with no particular history from the start. Unless you have a case history of every single person who is being studied the ability to tell why they might make certain choices is impossible. Studies like this look at inputs and outputs and don't concern themselves with the personal psychology of the subject. If you create a society governed by taste-tests then you create a society of non-individuals.

Re:Scum (4, Interesting)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709842)

Nonsense, they don't care about the individual, they care about statistically significant shifts in the group.

Think about it, if burgundy carpets makes ten percent of the customers purchase a more expensive salad, and with no identifiable negatives, then it makes sense to install burgundy carpets if they want to shift more of these salads. It doesn't matter that it has no effect on 90% of the customers - indeed they would be well aware that it has no effect on them.

Stores run promotions all the time that are aimed at shifting a tiny proportion of their customers to a more expensive product. It doesn't work for the majority, but increasing your profit per customer for even a small proportion makes sense if you can do it without detriment to the majority of your customer base.

Similarly, while you may guess at why people made a choice, there's no need to know exactly why, just that you can record a statistically significant shift in their patters when you change one stimuli.

Re:Scum (2, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710030)

It's already being influenced by thousands of external stimuli, and you have no idea how they're influencing you

I have to admit, that's a pretty persuasive argument. You've definitely gotten me to change my mind on the subject ... :)

Re:Scum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21709676)

Holy knee-jerk reactions, batman!

It said one of the things they would monitor is how much food is thrown away. Wanting to adjust portions so food isn't wasted warrants a bullet in the head? Wanting to maximize the enjoyment of a patron in general is being evil and manipulative? No one is forcing you to go to this restaurant or any others. Stay in a make your own food - that's your right.

Also, how is any of this propaganda? At all? I'm not sure you know what the word means.

Re:Scum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21709828)

Shooting people in the head is not ok.

Re:Scum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21709984)

It is in the Netherlands, especially if a muslim does it. Though theyre allowed to stab people too.

on privacy (4, Insightful)

j_166 (1178463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709578)

I don't really see the privacy implications. Presumably, those going to this research facility to eat know that its a research facility. They have to sign a consent form. The title of the article should be "Eat, Drink, and Participate in Food Science Research", but I guess "Eat, Drink, and Be Monitored" just sounds more Orwellian.

Re:on privacy (4, Funny)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709612)

It's just to get people riled up to click on the link so that they'll hopefully RTFA and then write a post about how the title is misleading...

Re:on privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21714514)

You've summarized 90% of slashdot activity (if you include misleading summary and dupes) in one sentence. How do you feel about that?

Re:on privacy (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21709864)

Yes there is a sign on the door...

Having the experience of living in the Netherlands as foreigner for the last 5 years or so, I can tell you that the tolerance and support for surveillance in this country is scary. Very scary.

It comes AFAIK from a tradition of religious control, where people's lives were very closely followed by the religious. Go to any village in this country, and you will only see houses with huge windows and without curtains.

Nowadays everybody supports more cameras in the street.

This country has a culture of peer monitoring of behaviour, and peer "active" enforcing of acceptable behaviour (normally through the waving of a censoring finger, while preaching). Everybody watches everybody, and everyone will point in a censor-like way, to anyone not acting normally. This is no joke. The saying is "act normally" ("Doet normaal!"), for anyone doing anything nor conforming to "morally & socially" approved behaviour.

I could go on... but I better not.

so only if you close curtains you're pro privacy? (1)

boombaard (1001577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711382)

I'm sorry, you've really lost me here.. The dutch approve of "surveillance" because they don't close their curtains as soon as possible? or possibly leave them closed permanently?
As for the cameras, the only places they're really being implemented at all are places where a lot of people go out late at night (as, for some reason, those who are less educated seem to revel in drunken carousing, or worse, and cops can't be everywhere at once even if people call stuff in)
It's hardly the british mentality, where stuff like this can be said:

Competitions are being held at schools in many of the areas for children to become the "voice" of CCTV cameras, Mr Reid said. The 21 areas which have received grants for Talking CCTV proposals are: Southwark; Barking and Dagenham; Reading; Thanet; Harlow; Norwich; Ipswich; Plymouth; Gloucester; Derby; Northampton; Mansfield; Nottingham; Coventry; Sandwell; Wirral; Blackpool; Salford; Middlesbrough; South Tyneside; and Darlington.
Something that struck me as amusing: nearly every day i watched the news when i was there last, british newsreaders would report how CCTV's had helped arrest/find/whatever childmolesters/'normal' criminals.

About peer pressure: Yes, the normalizing tendencies that seem to be bred into most people here are somewhat obvious if you're not used to them, and probably obnoxious when you're exposed to them.
Personally, I find them something of a nuisance, but as I almost never interact with the little people anyway, they're not all that hard to avoid.
I'm curious to know what country's perspective you're writing from though.. If it's the US, you might be right in observing that it happens differently there, though i find your implicit suggestion that it doesn't happen in other countries at all rather naieve.. it's just expressed differently in different countries, but pretty much every society 'impresses' its rules on its inhabitants - be that through the KKK greeting unwanted newcomers to the South (a short few decades ago?) or through 'tssk tssk' in the parental care role).
having a right to bare (your) arms (as the Arrogant Worms put it :P) might it less likely that you're being told outright you shouldn't have too many tattoos, but go to any rural community in the South/Mid-West of the US or parts of Canada and you'll be ostracized when you don't go to church like proper people do.
And if that isn't (scary) normalizing/normative behavior/conditioning i don't know what is.

Re:on privacy (3, Insightful)

yootje (770109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711398)

Disclaimer: I am Dutch ;) First off, I don't think it has anything to do with religion, people just like to watch people and gossip about it, especially in small communities. You almost don't see this behaviour in the cities and in small towns it's reducing, I think (I live in a city myself). You can also look at this in an other perspective: Maybe the open curtains say: we have nothing to hide, look at us? Or maybe people just like to watch birds. And I don't what you are trying to say about the "doe normaal"-saying: when someone wants to kick someone's ass: that's not conforming to "morally & socially" approved behaviour, is it wrong to say "please act normal" in that situation? Or when someone is shouting through the streets? Or when someone says he likes to have sex with dead chickens?

Re:on privacy (1, Insightful)

Darth Liberus (874275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711564)

I was in Amsterdam for five days in May and found your people to be really open, charming, and tolerant. I actually really liked the culture; everyone just goes about their lives doing whatever they damn well please and if someone's being an asshole people tell them to knock it off. American culture, on the other hand, can be VERY judgemental and VERY conformist, so I can see how such openness would cause some of us to become very, very paranoid :)

Re:on privacy (2, Insightful)

BlendieOfIndie (1185569) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711948)

American culture, on the other hand, can be VERY judgemental and VERY conformist

Much like in the Netherlands, it also depends where you live in America. The South East (where I'm originally from) seems to adhere to these properties more so than other areas of the country (ex. California). In big cities you see less of the judgemental/conformist culture (just like in the Netherlands). Furthermore, I believe the judgmental/conformity traits hold the least in Western, individualistic cultures. I would expect these traits to be most prominent in Eastern, collectivist cultures like Japan. In Eastern cultures, you are defined as being part of "the group."

Re:on privacy (1)

LuSiDe (755770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21716638)

Oh yes, and it used to be "live and let live". This was The Netherlands (minus some villages) in the 80s. Having been in and around San Francisco for half a year I can tell there are some similarities between Frisco and The Netherlands but... things are changing, and I can state many changes in The Netherlands which make the aspects about the culture we discuss more bleak. For one, there is this European Union, demanding conformity between its States. Also, very right wing (tm) parties are on the rise, and even the Labour Party and Christian Democrats are proposing (and succeeding) with oppressive laws. And cannabis? Its only legal to sell it, not to mass produce it (except if you're the government...) so anyone caught with mass producing is fined and jailed. The catch? Well, it has become much easier to catch mass producers. Also, the number of coffeeshops are in decline, and psilo shrooms are becoming illegal. For one Great Reich called the European Union...

Re:on privacy (1)

Xhris (97992) | more than 6 years ago | (#21713472)

I was in Amsterdam for five days in May and found your people to be really open, charming, and tolerant. I actually really liked the culture; everyone just goes about their lives doing whatever they damn well please and if someone's being an asshole people tell them to knock it off. American culture, on the other hand, can be VERY judgmental and VERY conformist, so I can see how such openness would cause some of us to become very, very paranoid :)
The Dutch are not tolerant particularly. It however is important to been seen to be tolerant (ie the tolerance is a fairly surface thing). And they are definitely judgmental! Almost all expats who have lived there for more than 5 days agree.

Re:on privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21720306)

says some guy named Darth Liberus....

Re:on privacy (1)

Jerry Smith (806480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21716922)

Disclaimer: I am Dutch ;) First off, I don't think it has anything to do with religion, people just like to watch people and gossip about it, especially in small communities. You almost don't see this behaviour in the cities and in small towns it's reducing, I think (I live in a city myself). You can also look at this in an other perspective: Maybe the open curtains say: we have nothing to hide, look at us? Or maybe people just like to watch birds. And I don't what you are trying to say about the "doe normaal"-saying: when someone wants to kick someone's ass: that's not conforming to "morally & socially" approved behaviour, is it wrong to say "please act normal" in that situation? Or when someone is shouting through the streets? Or when someone says he likes to have sex with dead chickens?

Disclaimer: I'm Dutch, live in Amsterdam and have lived half my life in one of the most Christian towns in the Netherlands. And yes: it's a religious thing. It's all about the gossip in the churches, the habits of the neighbours and The Others (i.e. the evil non-religious). Now I live in Amsterdam, and about once a week someone is found dead in a park, or in a canal. Hardly any religion, hardly any social control. Social control does not imply religion involved, but it surely helps. "Please act normal" should not be mistaken with "please do not do things that will make other gossip about you."

By the way, some cultures do not mind having intercourse with animals ;)

Re:on privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21716952)

I don't know if it has to do with religion tradition or not. That is just the impression I get from it, so that's why I used the "AFAIK".

What I meant to say about the curtains was that privacy is not normally on a high prize here. Normally the same people that start saying "we have nothing to hide" are those who will start saying that those who do prize privacy are trying to hide something. I heard that personally several times. So that's the impression I get.

As about the "doe normaal". The situations at which I heard that were actually when either talking and moving my hands, or dancing in the street, or doing some acting while telling a joke. That's the sort of situation where I get amazed that people actually try to actively control my behavior. Not some violent episode of people being agressive.

I didn't meant to be terribly negative about the NL. There are *many* great things about it. But the privacy aspect of life here, is something I don't really like.

Every single corner I walk from home to work has cameras. On every single tram or bus I walk in, I can count some 5 camera boxes. Some months ago, train stations were all filled with poster showing police officers watching TV monitors "We are watching" (or something like that) was the text.

I just really dislike that.

Re:on privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21717010)

But this is SlashDot! We're supposed to blame everything on either religion or Bill Gates, and I don't see how the latter applies. Doubtless someone will chip in on that subject any second now, though.

Re:on privacy (1)

moz25 (262020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711486)

Just curious: which part of the country are/were you living in?

I've been living in The Netherlands for 20+ years and don't recognize what you're saying at all. Then again, I'm living in The Hague (one of the big cities) and not one of the small villages.

The Netherlands is one of the least religiously dominated countries in Europe: even the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage (of of the #1 priorities it seems of most religious groups). The only places you'll still have the narrowminded attitudes are in the smaller isolated villages.

Re:on privacy (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21712000)

The only places you'll still have the narrowminded attitudes are in the smaller isolated villages.
Doesn't that amount to the whole of the country except Amsterdam & Rotterdam?

Re:on privacy (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21712522)

The only places you'll still have the narrowminded attitudes are in the smaller isolated villages.
Doesn't that amount to the whole of the country except Amsterdam & Rotterdam?
No. These smaller isolated villages are rural and small. Maybe they account for 5% or 10% of the people. It's not that only the big four cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) are tolerant. There are many other cities, and these cities are growing and growing. But it is true that the bigger the city, the more tolerant the people are in general.

Re:on privacy (1)

Djatha (848102) | more than 6 years ago | (#21715950)

No, actually the whole frikking country is one big city with large parks between the communities. I think the grandparent is referring to the Bible-belt in the Netherlands and the very small villages (less than 1000 people) or empty cold lands of the North (Frysia anyone?).

Re:on privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21717192)

Been, well, in the north of the country for a couple of years ;-)

Where police would regularly stop me for documents :-( Where people will openly say they prefer foreigners to leave the country.

The following now is pretty off-topic.

I live in the randstad now, so what? I still hear racist comments and jokes once a week during lunch time. Albeit not necessarily against my own ethnical group.

All this people saying how liberal the randstad is and everything. Sorry dudes, reality (i.e. general social treatment) in this country is pretty different when you are not caucasian.

Try being dutch and having a opinion that does not conform. You ARE allowed. Try being foreigner and having an opinion that does not conform. You ARE attacked. I mean this, and I mean this literally.

Many times I've been in a group where lots of people are complaining due to some (transitory) problem making everybodies lives difficult. That is ok. The moment I open my mouth to agree with the people complaining I get people being harsh at me. Foreigners are often not allowed personal opinions, so very often people simply forget that foreigners are individuals, and as such have the right to have an opinion.

One out of many: somebody complains its too cold. Fine. The same person asks me if I don't think its cold. I say "yes, it is too cold". Some third person starts a rant, that ends with "you now, why don't you leave the country, I think you should leave the country".

This has nothing to do with having the right to be "a half naked gay guy etc..." (as someone else mentioned). It has to do with me answering a question about whether is cold or not. And people saying that they think I should leave the country after it.

Again, I really could go on here....

Best regards,
AC

Re:on privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21721124)

Sorry to hear you've met a lot of racists that probably voted for Wilders. And those few individuals jumping on the "leave the country then" bandwagon are typicaly not adult, shortsighted or plain stupid, racists, or sometimes even have the hooligan mentality. Smarter people live in Eindhoven i guess. :) I am caucasian but see your point.

Re:on privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21712424)

Nowadays everybody supports more cameras in the street.

And yet the UK has far more cameras in the street. Odd.

The saying is "act normally" ("Doet normaal!"), for anyone doing anything nor conforming to "morally & socially" approved behaviour.

And yet the Netherlands has a large, visible gay population, coffee shops that sell marijuana, and a not-well-integrated muslim population.

What does this all mean? I dunno.

Re:on privacy (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21712910)

Huge windows and no curtains? What's wrong with that? You think that is done to monitor the street? Gods, I would hate it if they had small windows and curtains closed all the time. If you want to do something in private, you would not do it in the middle of the street now, won't you? And in the few places where religion still is in control, that's where you'll see closed curtains, otherwise the neighbors will see what you are up to.

"Doe normaal" is indeed preserved for people that act crazy. But the many times I hear it is when someone is annoying people and is not acting socially. E.g. I shouted "doe normaal" when somebody played music loudly in the train (damn phones). Depending on where you are, acting not normally is quite accepted in the Netherlands. Many things that are thought of as being shocking in other countries won't shock somebody from the Netherlands.

Of course, it depends a bit where you are. I'm living near Amsterdam. Just last year I walked down the street when a leather clad, half naked gay ran right out of a bar in broad daylight. The reaction of the crowd was all telling. There was none. There will be a slightly different reaction on the country side (people will tend to know you and might avoid you after an episode like that).

Oh, and afaik shops and restaurants are obliged to notify you of camera's over here. At least you know what they are present.

Re:on privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21717408)

"Doe normaal" is indeed preserved for people that act crazy. But the many times I hear it is when someone is annoying people and is not acting socially. E.g. I shouted "doe normaal" when somebody played music loudly in the train (damn phones). Depending on where you are, acting not normally is quite accepted in the Netherlands. Many things that are thought of as being shocking in other countries won't shock somebody from the Netherlands.

Perhaps people were a bit intimidated by some half naked leather clad person? I don't know. Please read this post. The part where I tell of when someone asks me if I also think it is cold. http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=390166&cid=21717192 [slashdot.org]

Oh, and afaik shops and restaurants are obliged to notify you of camera's over here. At least you know what they are present

That is exactly my problem. That there are so many cameras, and that everybody feels so warm about it. And no, I don't trust the surveillance people to be fair and not to use that infrastructure to harass me. How many times, in the last couple of years, did police stopped you during shopping hours, in a shopping street for papers? I myself lost count of it, 15 or 20 times maybe. Get the idea?

Re:on privacy (1)

bsgenerator (725496) | more than 6 years ago | (#21715596)

Mmmm. I shouldn't feed the trolls, but....

I think you have a reason to post this anonymously. Post some crap about a country, its inhabitants, their attitude and behaviour, and watch them go beserk.

At least that was what you hoped for...

(and yes, I'm dutch)

Re:on privacy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21709880)

Presumably, those going to this research facility to eat know that its a research facility.
Then it's a complete waste of effort. If those participating know that it's being monitored then they'll be playing a role, not acting naturally. The waiter is rude to you, what do you do? Well there's cameras everywhere, are you going to play "nobody messes with me, buster" or are you going to play "calm and unflustered"? The waitress is flirting with you, are you going to show play "real man" or "faithful husband"?

It could be a lot of fun, but it isn't science. Unless they are also monitoring another restaurant surreptitiously and the point is to see how differently people behave when they know they're being watched.

Re:on privacy (2, Insightful)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711552)

You don't sign an agreement every time you enter. You sign once, and then eat there whenever you want all school year (or however long, dunno how long the agreements last). A lot of research is done in front of cameras - if you leave the cameras there long enough, people forget they're there. I do educational research, and you always go into the classroom a few days early and start recording (or pretending to record). By the time you're ready to collect your data, the kids have forgotten the camera's there 90% of the time. Sure, it's not perfect, but people generally can't keep their guard up through an entire class/meal, let alone several in a row once the camera has faded into the back of their mind. And if the cameras aren't visible, even better.

The fact is, behavioral science in a tightly-controlled laboratory can only tell us so much about how people function out in the real world. Behavioral/cognitive scientists are starting to realize this, and looking for better ways to research real-world behavior in a way that's decently reliable and valid. There are tradeoffs.

if you know (4, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709582)

But if you know you're being watched won't it effect how you act?

If that woman knows someone is watching her she might resist eating that extra few fries, but if she isn't she might just go get another bag cause she's had a shitty day.

Re:if you know (1)

pmdkh (1180717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709714)

This is what I was thinking, i.e., that it would produce some sort of Hawthorne effect [nwlink.com] .

Re:if you know (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709836)

This introduces so much bias into the system I don't know how any results they gather will be of any use statistically or scientifically. You introduce astroturfing, trolling, self-conscious habits, confirmation bias, etc. into your results. To say that they can gather anything scientific from this is just stupid. Without blinds and controls, there is no way to isolate variables.

Re:if you know (4, Interesting)

CapsaicinBoy (208973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710622)

Disclaimer: IAAFS

Without meaning to be rude, you are flat out wrong. It just so happens that I study ingestion behavior for a living. My work is more related to the genetics of eating behavior and food choice, so this facility is less directly useful to me personally, but it absolutely will move the field forward. Unlike armchair quarterbacks that take cheapshots on the intarweb, every practicing scientist recognizes the inherent tradeoffs between experimental control and generalizability.

First, before the Correlation !=Causation weenies get their panties in a bunch, I'm happy for you that you passed stats 101, but you need to understand that RCTs are not the only way to do science. Yes, randomization is really nice for making claims about causation, but at least in humans, I can't assign you a specific gene (TAS2R38) or personality trait (novelty seeking). Yet we can still use the scientific method to make predictions based on theory and test those predictions.

Second, much of this work is done today using self report. Certainly, observation can induce bias, but so can self-report. When separate methods, with separate flaws confirm the same findings, science moves forward.

Finally, your comment about blinds, controls and isolation of variables is totally ignorant. The ability to manipulate this artificial restaurant in ways you could never manipulate a real restaurant is *exactly* what provides those controls.

Here is an example. Imagine I have a theory how socialization influences the time people spent at the table and the amount they consume. In this restaurant, I can manipulate the table size (2 vs. 4 chairs), social attachment between people (sit with friends or random assignment) or gender (do women eat more or less when seated with random men, male friends, just women, etc) to test my theories.

Re:if you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21714288)

Researcher 1: "Let's try...2 and 1/2 chairs."

Researcher 2: "Interesting..."

Later that day.

Researcher 1: "Holy fuck, look at them eat!"

Researcher 2: "Jesus, They're killing themselves!"

Researcher 1: "TURN IT OFF, TURN IT OFF!"

Re:if you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21714780)

Disclaimer: IAAFS

And, from the sound of it, also a pretentious asshole. Thanks for turning so many people in our culture against science.

Re:if you know (1)

pkadd (1203286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709808)

agreed. If they tell the customers that they are being monitored, they will behave differently, no doubt If the don't tell them, wouldn't that be a breach of the basic privacy laws?

Re:if you know (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710026)

At first they will behave differently, but as soon as they get used to it, they will probably forget all about it.

Re:if you know (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21712038)

And being a university restaurant, I'll wager that they'll have quite a large number of regular/repeat customers such that they do get used to it.

Re:if you know (1)

Fallen Seraph4 (1186821) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709914)

I expect that the professors and research students, who have spent years of their lives learning how the human mind works, will probably have thought of this too. I don't pretend to know a work-around to the problem, but there exist some academics willing to devote ten years of their lives to it. So it can't be that fatal an error.

Re:if you know (3, Insightful)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709974)

It's rather irrelevant though.

What they want to know isn't "How do you eat"

But "How does your eating change if we do X and Y"

So how you're eating when you're being watched will become the baseline they're doing experiments on seeing how it changed by changing variables.

Well that's what they are telling you anyway! (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21722294)

Scientific studies that tell people what is actually being monitored are pretty broken because telling people about the monitoring is likely to impact behaviour.

Far more often, these places will tell you about one thing, but actually be monitoring something completely different. eg. They might say they're monitoring whether peaople eat more from square vs round plates when in fact they're monitoring if people eat more (or say the taste is better) when the the menu has fancy French names.

Re:if you know (1)

momerath2003 (606823) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710102)

No, but it might affect how you act.

Re:if you know (1)

TomHandy (578620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710290)

I was going to post something similar but not surprisingly this point has already been made. Frankly, it seems like the whole idea that people know they are being monitored would have a very significant effect on their behavior, choices, etc.

Re:if you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711516)

that's what they want you to think. in fact the study will be about how people eat when they know there being observed.Psychologist always come up with these schemes.

or maybe that's what they want us to think ?

ugh i'm confused now...

Influence of Culture (1)

velen (1198819) | more than 6 years ago | (#21714556)

All that this study will accomplish is to gather statistical data on the food intake patterns of people in the Netherlands. Every country has its own culture and that has a strong influence on how they react to others, how they eat their food, what they eat and when they eat.

I hope the food is at least dirt cheap (1)

assassinator42 (844848) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709596)

Is university run dining in the Netherlands the same pseudo-monopoly ripoff it is in the United States?

Re:I hope the food is at least dirt cheap (1)

Gyga (873992) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709766)

It might be worse. In the US most universities require freshmen to buy over 15 meals a week from them. They say it is to make sure they eat (freshmen sometimes forget). But the food is more expensive and of lesser quality than restaurants. Think of overpriced highschool food.

Re:I hope the food is at least dirt cheap (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710574)

Universities actually "require" very little of freshmen. Those so-called requirements like "live on campus first semester" or "buy X level meal-plan" are really guidelines, since they can be waived for just about any reason. All you need to do is ask. Or all your parents need to do.

Re:I hope the food is at least dirt cheap (1)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711188)

I have attended two different universities, in different states. Both require that students living in on-campus dorms buy a meal plan. If you don't, about a month into the semester they evict you. I lost a roommate that way (and was quite happy about it, she was a b****).

The food is also general extremely substandard and expensive. Food poisoning is unfortunately rather commonplace in my experience.

I hope this study can capture the effects of the quality of the food on the people who eat there, but it doesn't mean much to most students, who HAVE to eat at the dining halls, or else they a) waste a $1500 meal plan they don't use or b) get evicted for not buying one.

Re:I hope the food is at least dirt cheap (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21712530)

Are you sure that's why she left, and she wasn't just using that as an excuse? It's been my experience that if you bitch about it to housing they'll eventually let it go. Threatening language notwithstanding.

Re:I hope the food is at least dirt cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21716246)

I lost a roommate that way (and was quite happy about it, she was a b****).
You had a femal rommate? Did you see her boobies or anything?

Re:I hope the food is at least dirt cheap (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21718074)

Well, I can't speak of everywhere, but I can speak of all the schools in Florida, MIT, Berkley, and Georgia Tech, and Purdue because I know people from all of them.

None of those schools have programs like that. You can always opt out of the meal plan.

Re:I hope the food is at least dirt cheap (1)

Gyga (873992) | more than 6 years ago | (#21718710)

For those of us bound to in state schools due to lack monitary resources, my state has only one university good for engineering, they have a required meal plan for all freshmen for the first year. The school that is only good for medical fields has a similar plan but only for the first semester. The other schools are only good for teaching and arts majors which I am not in. Even then most of them have similar programs according to my friends that attend them. Not all states are the same. And I'm sure schools like MIT that have such high tuition fees don't have get more money like nearby universities. If you opt of the meal plans at any of these schools you can't stay on campus and have to find an apartment in the middle of a large city where the cost of the apartment is usually skyhigh (my friends looked into getting an apartment before giving up).

Re:I hope the food is at least dirt cheap (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710018)

It's probably worse, becuase all you get is grated chocolate sandwiches and some kind of horrible drink loosely based on milk.

Re:I hope the food is at least dirt cheap (1)

borizz (1023175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710046)

Yes and no. While the cafeterias do charge a lot for some articles (.30 or so eurocent for a slice of bread, at University of Twente, where I'm at), you are not required to eat there. Other things are more mundanely priced. A big subway-style sandwich (the length of a French "flute" bread) with generous filling runs you about 2,20 euro. Which I think is reasonable. Coffee and tea is at .25 cents a cup, .20 cent if you reuse your previous (disposable) cup or bring your own cup. For prices in dollars, multiply by 1.4.

However, tuiton for a full year is only 1500 euro (the rest is covered by the government). Foreign students pay around 7000 euro, I think. By law, by the way, so every university is that price.

Re:I hope the food is at least dirt cheap (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711714)

No: As far I understood, in the US you have to pay an all-inclusive amount for living, food, and tuition. Even if you don't want to eat the food, you still have to pay for it.

In the Netherlands you pay separately for everything, so you have more choice on what you spend your money on. Still, it is quite expensive, the same or higher as railway station prices. I guess you don't go to a railway station in the US so often, so let's say it's like gas station prices. The candy machines at Utrecht University were a giant ripoff. I got a letter of them today with a request to spend them money for some fund, I should just reply I already paid them through all those Twix bars I paid double the price for.

In Germany, it's much better, before last year you didn't even have to pay tuition, you just pay about 600 euro per semester for general student services (sports facilities, the dining ("mensa" we call it), and even free public transport. Each university has a student representation that is responsible for the distribution of this money. So there's a lot of democracy involved in how the dining is arranged and what you get to eat, and you probably pay less than it actually costs to make it. You can have a simple meal for 2 euro, and a feast for 5 euro :)

YouTube worthy. (1)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709598)

At least on the day that the scientists unleash Flatulent Frank on the unsuspecting diners.

Re:YouTube worthy. (2, Funny)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709748)

No, the day some unsuspecting crook tries to stick up the place, now THAT'S gonna be funny. I hope that gets on court tv. "I now present evidence 1-p, videofeed #16"

Wait just a minute! (5, Funny)

NetSettler (460623) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709644)

We can ask the staff to be less friendly and visible or the reverse.

They have the ability to just ask waitstaff to be more friendly or visible and thereby cause it to just happen??? Forget the rest of the research, this one technique is wholly unknown to and long sought by restaurants everywhere. They should just publish how they manage that trick and call it a day!

Better still, patent it, and retire wealthy.

Re:Wait just a minute! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21709964)

I can't know where you are from, but where I live the waitresses are always very friendly. The cashiers at local supermarket on the other hand...

Re:Wait just a minute! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710494)

Always? That's nonsense. I don't know where you are from either, but I'm going to move there and get my wife to land a job as a waitress. I bet that'll disprove your silly little assertion.
Actually, I don't mind if it doesn't, either.

Re:Wait just a minute! (1)

ToadMan8 (521480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710836)

The trick, in this case, is to hire University researchers to wait tables.
 
To put it in more slashdotty terms, it's what happens when senior managers and directors get their hands in first-line support. Extremely patient, well-researched, instantly followed-up support results.
 
It simply doesn't scale to have senior management waiting tables.

Science? (2, Informative)

no-body (127863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709656)

I wonder how they comensate for the factor introduced by the folks being watched knowing to be watched and playing a game.

Maybe they glean something out of it to predict human behavior.

I wish all the power to humans to be as unpredictable and crazy as ususal and make them scratch their heads after they find out that things don't add up.

Re:Science? (2, Interesting)

gotzero (1177159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709780)

Most university affiliated learning centers/experiments like this usually have heavily subsidized costs of goods. At my university, there was a restaurant that the hotel and restaurant management students ran. It was the best food and atmosphere for miles around, almost free, and completely not advertised. A lot of people did not know about it, and I ate there as often as I could get a reservation. I would have been happy to sign a waiver that my behavior could be watched there. I am sure a lot of my behavior was watched anyway, b/c the student staff were way too friendly to not be answering immediately to someone... Researching human behavior is a tough thing to tackle. Obviously the best data would come from blind or even double blind tests, but any kind of waiver or admission of experiment will obviously influence the subjects. The fact that people act differently when watched is enough on its own to show that there is still a ton to be learned on the subject.

Cameras, cameras, everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21709710)

This comment is only tangentially related to food and eating, depending on, uh, what you eat, but... All these cameras everywhere. You really have to think twice before you decide it's safe to pick your nose. C'mon, don't you think everyone takes care of housekeeping? It's just a question of when and where it gets done. More and more, you should just assume it is NOT safe.

I don't know. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21709934)

I generally don't pick my nose in a public spot, and these cameras are usually in public spots, so I don't see the problem.

This is really NOT news (2, Insightful)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709754)

This type of 'research' has been going on for a LONG time.
The only thing different here is a controlled setting
specifically designed for research, which by it's very nature,
will skew the findings. Restaruants have been doing this forever.
What sells, what ambience sells the most while encouraging
turn-over. Stuff any motel and restaruant manager knows to
look for anyway.

Yawn. Supersize that!

As a Waiter for ~4 years (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710908)

The only thing managers/owners I've met were worried about was imprinting their brand on happy customers. Sure they think about how any decision will affect their type of "guest" and if it meshes with the place's current image, but that doesn't go as far as "will they eat more meat if I use a pink tablecloth vs a red one?"

Seems to me the other end would be more... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709812)

...useful to learn about.

That is the restroom end regarding health issues and how to improve restroom conditions to promote better care by the patrons.

Being hungry has more influence than anything they can inject into the environment. Same goes for the restroom, but both environments can influence how patrons make use of the ....

Bistromathics (1)

Mortiss (812218) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709822)

Eating habits, effect of lights etc.- who are they kidding? I bet this is the first step in the secret development of Bistromathic drive. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bistromathic_drive/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:Bistromathics (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 6 years ago | (#21712158)

Eating habits, effect of lights etc.- who are they kidding? I bet this is the first step in the secret development of Bistromathic drive. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bistromathic_drive [wikipedia.org]

There, fixed that for ya. Thanks for the laugh, and the sad reminder, I needed them both.

Why all the secrecy.. (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709824)

They neglected to mention the close monitoring of the way figures strangely fail to come to the expected sum on bills in chintzy Italian restaurants.

This omission leads me to believe they are partially funded from a mysterious cabal, hence the secrecy about that bit.

Re:Why all the secrecy.. (1)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710088)

Science is the art of measurement my friend, within defined entities and boundaries like the laws of nature. Billing in Italian restaurants clearly fall outside this scope.

Double-Unblind trials ftw? (1)

Paeva (1176857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21709916)

Did I miss the fad transition from double-blind to double-unblind? Sure, the restaurant sounds cool, and maybe some of the research is applicable to the real world, but it sounds like they're tweaking a lot of the variables here at the same time.

bistromathics (1)

oliphaunt (124016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710004)

This is the only energy source that could be more powerful than the Infinite Improbability Drive!

quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710122)

"Gah! No fair! You changed the outcome by Measuring it!" - Professor Hubert Farnsworth

Money is the reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710250)

What's the purpose of this study, to eek every last cent out of your wallet? To see what kind of environment best presents such an opportunity when food is desired? While this may be used as a therapudic means to aid those with psychological problems, most likely it will end up being the tool of some marketing department. Should we make the discoveries known so that subliminal means will become common knowledge? Will such subliminal means be subverted by knowing the science behind our impulses? Is it really science vs marketing?

Bad experiment (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710302)

In order to get proper results it can only be done by a double-bliund experiment.
The fact that the diners and servers both know they are part of an experiement will surely throw the results off a lot, so basically this is an invalid experiment.

Re:Bad experiment (0, Flamebait)

CapsaicinBoy (208973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710666)

Hurray. You learned about the Hawthorn effect in some class. How's about you leave the real science to the grownups and go back to studying for finals. Do your really think so highly of yourself that you really believe people that actually have PhDs and do this for a living aren't aware of such things like observer bias?

Re:Bad experiment (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 6 years ago | (#21714834)

Actually, he's right.

Just because they have PhDs doesn't mean they are compensating for the Hawthone Effect, although they should be compensating for it.

If the researchers ARE ALSO the observers, then the Hawthorne Effect WILL affect the outcome of their results. If the researchers are NOT the observers, then the results will be closer to true.

CapsaicinBoy's immature comment is probably the result of Small Man Syndrome, but I can't conclusively diagnose that, since I am also an observer. If he had a brain, he'd realize that having an educational degree doesn't mean studies are without error.

In response to the "wasteofmoney" tag (4, Insightful)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710368)

No this isn't research into space, into sexy supercomputing clusters, or other far-flung reaches of technology. This is research into basic elements of human behavior - indeed elements with a very strong environmental impact. Technology cannot solve all of our problems, it cannot solve the human condition. Part of fixing the ills in our society (and those we inflict on our supporting biosphere) is to learn how to subconsciously promote better behavior on the part of everyone. Small changes, done across the board, can make great gains - and much of these benefits "stack" with benefits from new technology.

So don't knock this research until you've looked at the numbers - according to this article [sdsucollegian.com] in 1997, Americans threw away (for one reason or another) 27% of edible food, that's 96 *billion* pounds, which is ~400 pounds per person, per year! Sure, this occurs at many stages, but each stage can be improved.

I am sure that these tapes will be studied years later by linguists, behaviorists, game theorists, businessmen and efficiency specialists. Besides, with research, we never know what we're going to learn until we try.

Re:In response to the "wasteofmoney" tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710612)

The idea that research into human behavior will result in using that research to promote "better" behavior feels pretty optimistic. Perhaps I gravitate toward the negative, but in my experience, that's often enough not what happens with information. A small example: people in the US have all the research and technology to produce and promote cars that consume less fuel, but instead companies market and the government provides tax incentives for gas guzzling SUVs and trucks. (And after years of selling those vehicles, legislation is launched to put tough new limits on fuel consumption, resulting in people who already have cars buying different cars, until the trend changes yet again. First sell the disease, sell the cure.)

I'd like to think that if the results of this research indeed provide tools for influencing behavior, those tools would be used for saving food, making healthier choices, etc., rather than how to sell more of what profits.

Re:In response to the "wasteofmoney" tag (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711170)

Well, we cannot even start applying knowledge to influence human behavior positively until we have it.

Re:In response to the "wasteofmoney" tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21717526)

> Well, we cannot even start applying knowledge to influence human behavior positively until we have it.

It's true, we can't apply knowledge until we have it, just like we can't use a fission bomb until we understand nuclear fission.

Re:In response to the "wasteofmoney" tag (1)

LuSiDe (755770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21716654)

The idea that research into human behavior will result in using that research to promote "better" behavior feels pretty optimistic. Perhaps I gravitate toward the negative, but in my experience, that's often enough not what happens with information.
Have a look toward the effects of Edward Bernays (a nephew of Freud) influence on American society...

Nothing new here (1)

KarmaRundi (880281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710398)

This kind of research has been done for a long time. See the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink [mindlesseating.org] for a summary. You're deluded if you think you know why you eat what you eat and how much of it you eat.

Not the first time (1)

porges (58715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710444)

This has been done in America as well. This guy [wikipedia.org] , author of Mindless Eating [wikipedia.org] , opened up a restaurant that really only existed in order to perform this kind of experiment. ISTR that the patrons were informed as to the general nature of the place, but the food was good enough that they came anyway.

I could live with it (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710732)

As long as nobody makes any snide remarks if the girlfriend and I sneak the odd pitcher of chocolate syrup out of the place instead of using it on our ice cream.

Just watch me, L... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711750)

I'll take a potato chip... and EAT IT!

If They're Studying Me... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21713392)

If they're studying me, then the food should be free.

Wouldn't want to be there on the day they're trying to see what makes people puke.

My subconscious is lovin' it (1)

rush22 (772737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21713664)

ba da ba ba baaaa

Is there a drive through? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21716724)

And, I would like my french fries - SUPER SIZED!

"less friendly" (1)

dreemkill (170748) | more than 6 years ago | (#21716910)

"We can ask the staff to be less friendly and visible or the reverse."

is it possible for restaurant staff in the Netherlands to /be/ less friendly and visible?

i mean, they aren't really known for their hospitality.. i was there a week ago, speaking from experience..
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?