Drinking and eating
cause the body naturally to reward itself. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with movement, attention and pleasure, is released when an individual engages in healthful behavior, such as eating. The brain’s reaction to food intake is to reward the body by releasing dopamine, which causes feelings of happiness and enjoyment; this strengthens the connection between the act of eating and the pleasant sensation, which in turn reinforces positive associations between what is being consumed and those same pleasurable feelings. Research suggests dopamine not only acts as a reward mechanism, but is instrumental in anticipation and motivation; the chemical has been found to activate in an individual upon the suggestion of a previously experienced event, increasing excitement and desire for the aforementioned*. It follows that the enabler of these feelings becomes similarly attached, for as a recipient consciously associates a company with a type of food, the body unconsciously associates the sustenance with pleasure. Giving edible promotions, then, becomes one of the most basic and potent reinforcement tools, as both the customer’s mind and body look toward the gift-giver for more of those euphoric cookies and candies. It also explains why Bob in accounting is so popular when he brings in doughnuts every Friday.
*Berridge, Kent C. and Terry E. Robinson. 1998. “What is the role of dopamine in reward: hedonic impact, reward learning, or incentive salience?” Brain Research Reviews 28 (3): 309-369.