The independent news organization of Duke University

Pop Psychology Honors Michael: "Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough"


Today, Pop Psychology tackles "Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough" as Part Two in its' five-part series on the King of Pop.  Part One, on "Man In the Mirror," can be found here.

“Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough,” is probably Jackson’s first big hit as a solo artist.  “Don’t Stop,” a favorite to dance floors across the world, is the lead single from Off the Wall, the first Jackson album produced by Quincy Jones.  It was also the debut single Michael released on Epic Records.  When it topped the US singles chart in 1979, it was the first Jackson track to do so in over seven years.

Basically, the song is six minutes of Michael pleading for us all to shake our groove things and find that special someone— to do a little dance, make a little love and generally just get down tonight, if you will.  By my count, Michael tells us to not “stop till we get enough” 25 times, so it’s clear that he means business.

Regrettably, I can’t summarize any psychological studies investigating our appetite for hot lovin'.  What I can do, fortunately, is present some compelling research on our appetite for hot soup.

In a 2005 edition of the journal Obesity Research, psychologists Brian Wansink, James Painter and Jill North gave a beautiful example of how people really have no idea of when enough is enough.  Their experiment was as simple as it was diabolical.  The authors "coaxed" undergraduates into participating in a study where their sole responsibility was to eat soup.  One half of the participants ate soup out of regular bowls, and were allowed (even encouraged) to get up and refill their bowls as much as they would like.  The other half of the participants ate their soup out of a "self-refilling bowl" that surreptitiously funneled more soup into the participants' bowls via a tube at the bottom of the bowl.

By now, you should know which group ate more soup.  After all, "People with refilling bowls eat just as much as people with normal bowls" isn't much of a headline.  So as you probably guessed, the researchers found that it took significantly longer for people with refilling bowls to "get enough" than those with traditional bowls that they had to refill themselves.  In fact, those with automatically refilling bowls ate an average of 73% more than  participants eating out of regular bowls.  What’s more alarming is that the two groups gave equal estimations as to how much they had consumed.  So, while those with refilling bowls actually consumed an average of 15 ounces of soup, they all estimated they ate around 10.

Michael tells us repeatedly to not stop until we get enough, but such a study shows that we don’t really know what "enough" is.  After all, when asked afterwards how “full” they were, participants with normal bowls actually reported being slightly more full than their counterparts, even though they had eaten significantly less food.  It’s as if these people are using external rather than internal cues to determine how full they are.  Seeing an empty bowl means that we should be full, so we convince ourselves that we are.

Keep this in mind at the next Michael Jackson-infused dance party you attend (Homecoming 2009, anyone?).  No sense getting all sweaty and gross.  Splash enough water on your torso, and eventually you’ll have to stop because you’ve had enough.


Share and discuss “Pop Psychology Honors Michael: "Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough"” on social media.