Can one product catch “cooties” from another?

Via Science Daily:

…ordinary products that can evoke feelings of disgust in consumers include trash bags, cat litter, diapers, cigarettes, mayonnaise and shortening. “Because these products are so common, consumers are likely to experience feelings of disgust on routine shopping trips,” Fitzsimons said.

Fitzsimons and Morales sought to understand how “disgusting” products can affect consumers’ opinions of other products in their grocery carts. They performed a series of experiments in which participants observed food products placed close to or touching a distasteful product.

In all cases, products that touched or rested against disgusting products became less appealing than products that were at least an inch away from the offending products. The effect was also enduring. Participants asked more than an hour after observing the products how much they wanted to try a cookie were less likely to want it if the package of cookies had been in contact with a package of feminine napkins.

The researchers say this behavior is not necessarily irrational, as it likely derives from basic instincts that caution humans against eating foods that have come in contact with insects or other sources of germs.

And:

In one experiment, participants viewed packages of rice cakes — some wrapped in transparent packaging and some in opaque paper carrying a “rice cakes” label –that were touching a container of lard. The rice cakes in the clear packaging were later estimated to have a higher fat content than those in the opaque packaging.

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