We all know that we feel a bit more hungry when we are tired, but the effects are more profound for women.

New York - For days, you’ve fought hard to resist that bar of chocolate sitting in the fridge.

But when you finally succumb to temptation and demolish most of it in a few seconds, shouldn’t the guilt you feel take the edge off your enjoyment?

Quite the opposite, say researchers. A study carried out on women discovered that guilt heightens their enjoyment of sweet treats rather than detracts from it.

They discovered that, by feeling guilty, we are ‘priming’ ourselves to take more pleasure in something which we consider to be illicit. The findings might seem surprising, but the researchers in the US said that in a weight-obsessed culture women take great delight in indulging in things that are considered to be ‘sinful’.

In the study, 40 women were split into two equal groups with one half looking at healthy living magazines with pictures of individuals looking slim and fit. The other half were asked to look at magazines with pictures unrelated to well being.

All 40 were then given a chocolate bar and asked how much they enjoyed the experience. Those who had read the healthy living magazine reported that they liked the sweets 16 percent more than those who did not.

The study was led by Kelly Goldsmith, of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago. She said: ‘If you advertise your product as being “guilt-free” what it could implicitly do is lower taste perception by lowering the expectation of pleasure. If you take the guilt out of it, people might not expect it to be as good.

‘Let people benefit from the intrigue and pleasure and enjoy their experience more.’

Professor Goldsmith wrote in her report that the findings showed that ‘experiencing the emotion of guilt can increase pleasure’.

She warned that the same principle applies to other, more harmful, guilty pleasures such as smoking and drinking. - Daily Mail