To reveal this food-photo phenomenon, co-author Jeff Larson and Elder recruited 232 people to look at and rate pictures of food.
In one of their studies, 50 percent of the participants viewed 60 pictures of sweet foods like cake, truffles and chocolates, while the other half looked at 60 pictures of salt foods such as chips, pretzels and French fries.
After rating each picture based on how appetizing that food appeared, each participant finished the experiment by eating peanuts, a salty food. Participants then rated how much they enjoyed eating the peanuts.
In the end, the people who had looked at the salty foods ended up enjoying the peanuts less, even though they never looked at peanuts, just at other salty foods.
The researchers say the subjects satiated on the specific sensory experience of saltiness.
The study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.