Chewing gum might help you listen and focus, even to something as tedious as someone reading out a random string of numbers, according to a small study just published in the British Journal of Psychology by a team of researchers at Cardiff University headed up by Kate Morgan.
The British team has conducted chewing gum and memory studies before, and Morgan said that previous research has already proved that if you chew gum, you can perform better on visual memory tests. The new study suggested that chewing gum may help you focus better on the things you hear as well.
She split 38 people into two groups that had to listen to a 30 minute audio of someone reading a random string of numbers and quickly identify whenever they heard a sequence of odd-even-odd numbers like 5-4-9. They were tested on how fast and how accurately they caught the sequences, and they also had to fill out a questionaire on their mood before and after the study.
The people who didn’t chew gum started out doing slightly better, but they were overtaken by the gum chewers by the end — suggesting that chewing gum helps people keep their focus when performing a task that requires people to listen to someone drone on and on about nothing.
You can see where the good professor is going with this, and I’m guessing that most teachers probably aren’t going to be too thrilled with Morgan’s conclusions. I think most of us at one time or another have figured out that chewing gum helps keep us awake during some tedious lecture. However, it’s possibly a tad dispiriting for the lecturer to look out on a classroom full of bored gum-chewers. And we all know where the gum ends up. Ugh.
Perhaps not entirely by coincidence, on Friday — the same day that Morgan’s new study was released — two city governments in the UK called for bans on public gum chewing. Local officials in Milton Keynes, a large town in England, and Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland and the third largest in the UK, have had enough of the gooey mess, which they said costs the taxpayers an undisclosed amount of money to keep cleaned up.
A Glasgow city councillor, Paul Carey, said he wants a complete ban on chewing gum but if that isn’t possible, then he thinks the government should start taxing it to pay for the clean-up.
Icky, sticky chewing gum isn’t all bad, I suppose. An earlier The Inquistr report revealed how clever investigators used the DNA from chewing gum to solve Maine’s oldest cold case, a murder that took place in 1976.
But, study or no study, we take no responsibility for the results if you try to tell your teacher that chewing gum helps you focus.
[photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons]