Convinced nothing can beat your mum's Sunday roast or grandmother's apple pie? You're probably right.

Food that we believe has been prepared with tender loving care always tastes better, according to scientists.

So if your friends and family constantly impress you with their culinary delights, it probably says as much about your relationship with them as it does about their prowess in the kitchen.

Researchers looking into human experience found that our experience of a physical sensation, such as taste, is affected by how we perceive the person administering it.
In another example, the psychologists, from the University of Maryland, also found that patients in hospital felt less pain during procedures when they were carried out by a sweet-natured nurse.


Professor Kurt Gray said: 'The way we read another person's intentions changes our physical experience of the world.

'The results confirm that good intentions - even misguided ones - can soothe pain, increase pleasure and make things taste better. It seems we also use the intentions of others as a guide for basic physical experience.' The study, to be published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, states that physical events are influenced by the perceived contents of another person's mind.

The conclusions were drawn from three different experiments, examining pain, pleasure and the taste of a sweet treat.

The investigation into pain found that bedside manner really does matter, with those having their blood taken by a stony-faced nurse experiencing more pain than those having it taken by a sympathetic one.

Meanwhile, those receiving help from family and friends felt more comforted if they believed the assistance was bestowed with generosity and compassion. And those eating sweet treats experienced more enjoyment when they thought that the cook had prepared it lovingly.

Professor Gray added: 'It's no surprise that food companies always pair their products with kindly old grandfathers and smiling mothers - thinking of this make-believe benevolence likely increases our enjoyment.

'To the extent that we view others as benevolent instead of malicious, the harms they inflict upon us should hurt less, and the good things they do for us should cause more pleasure.

'Stolen parking places cut less deep and home-cooked meals taste better when we think well of others.'