Chocolate is obtained from cacao beans. It is rich in flavanols, which fall in the class of flavonoids. Flavanoids are characterized as having significant antioxidant activity; therefore, this suggests chocolate is beneficial to human health. Chocolate has been used in the treatment of a variety of health issues from ancient times, and recent research has illustrated that it may be effective in treating memory-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (Prastowo, Kristanto, & Sasmita, 2015).
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There is a positive correlation between chocolate intake and improvement of working memory. In this context, memory is considered to be a combination of short-term memory, attention, and concentration. Moreover, memory is influenced by diet, age, gender, and sleep quality (Prastowo et al., 2015). In a study conducted in Jones and Wilson 2011, the results revealed that eating chocolate two hours before taking math tests considerably improved the scores.
Although there is a vast literature on the impact of eating chocolate on cognitive function, few studies have compared the effect of eating chocolate on the memory of different genders (Wong, Hideki, Anderson, & Skaarsgard, 2009). The influence of chocolate on memory between genders is thus not well understood. To fill this gap, the present study was conducted to examine whether chocolate intake is linked to higher improved cognitive function in women than in men.
The null hypothesis, H0, states that;
There is no significant difference in working memory between males and females a short period after eating chocolate.
Previous studies indicate that chocolate is more likely to improve the memory of females as compared to that of males; thus, the hypothesis is one-tailed.
This was an experimental study of pre and post-test design with controls. The participants were randomly selected from Ashford University’s population, separated into genders, and each given six bars of chocolate to eat. They were later given a digit span test (DST) to measure their working memory. In this study, the independent variable (IV) was chocolate intake, while the dependent variable (DV) was the effect of chocolate on the memory of different genders.
The study sample consisted of 50 men and 50 women who were randomly selected from a larger population. Participants were randomly selected to avoid limitations of bias. All these individuals were current students at Ashford University. This study sample was chosen because the project was solely funded by the researcher, and the budget was minimal. Hence, it was the only best viable option. The participants were then further randomly divided into an experimental and control group of 50 each, in which either group consisted of an equal number of sexes. The subjects were well-informed on the procedures of the experiment and written informed consent was signed by each. It is essential to note that information regarding the elements and effect of the experiment was not stated to the participants to minimize bias.
The simple randomization technique was used to divide the participants into two groups, that is, the control and treatment groups. Every group comprised 25 males and 25 females. Members in both groups received the six bars of dark chocolates of 75g.
The DST was used to measure the working memory (Prastowo et al., 2015). Participants had to go through a 24-hour wash-out period before the administration of the initial test. In the wash-out period, the subjects were to abstain from consuming flavonoid-containing foods and drinks. This was to ensure that by the following day, the body was deficient in flavonoids. After the wash-out period, both groups were given a pre-DST test. After the pre-test, the subjects consumed the chocolate bars, and three hours later, they were given a post-DST test. The pre and post-DST consisted of DST forwards (DSF) and DST backward (DSB) tests.
In the DSF test, the participants orally repeated a series of digits shown by the researcher in their distinct order. However, in the DSB test, they repeated the digits in inverse order. In both scenarios, the researcher stated a 4-digit number randomly, for example, 9951, at the rate of one digit per second. It was required that when a participant repeated the digits in their assigned order, the list of digits was increased by one digit.
Conversely, when a participant was incapable of repeating the digits in their assigned order, a DSB test was administered. The participants were granted two chances to listen to and repeat the digits. Therefore, when a subject has incorrectly repeated the series of digits on both occasions, the test was discontinued. After that, the DST score, i.e., the longest series of digits that have been correctly restated, was calculated. The study comprised three lists of digits, each for the DSF and DSB. However, the lists of digits for every set were in different orders.
The independent t-test was used to evaluate the variation in DST scores between the experimental and control groups. The level of significance was set at p<.05 with a confidence interval of 95%.
Since this was a one-tailed test that was evaluating the performance of males and females on a test after eating chocolate, the t-test method was used (Trochim, 2006). The results revealed an independent t-test value of t.05(99) = 3.43; p <.05. A p-value of <.05 suggests that there was a statistically significant difference between the IV and DV. Moreover, the value of 3.43 indicated the presence of substantial evidence against the null hypothesis. Therefore, the hypothesis was rejected.
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The null hypothesis was rejected. The results illustrated that eating chocolate generally increases the working memory in both genders; however, the effect is higher in women than men. Several other studies also mirror this result. For instance, Wong, Hideki, Anderson, & Skaarsgard (2009) carried out a study that investigated the impact of chocolate intake on the memory of different genders. The findings illustrated that women perform better than men on memory tests after eating chocolate.
However, the current study had some limitations that might have affected its results. For instance, it failed to homogenize the participants based on academic achievement. Secondly, only one type of chocolate was used, i.e., dark chocolate. Thirdly, the study sample only consisted of individuals falling within the 19-28 year age group. Therefore, several improvements can be made to improve the accuracy of the results. These include classifying participants based on academic achievements, using both white and dark chocolate, and diversifying the age group of the study sample. Moreover, it is recommended for future studies to investigate the effect of chocolate on long-term working memory as this only evaluated the short-term working memory.
In conclusion, dark chocolate improves the verbal working memory more in women than in men three hours after its consumption.
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Jones, A., & Wilson, W. (2011). Effect of eating chocolate on memory. Journal of Psychology, 26(2), 35-50.
Prastowo, N. W., Kristanto, S., & Sasmita, P. K. (2015). Dark chocolate administration improves working memory in students. Universal Medicine, 34(3), 229-236.
Trochim, W. M. (2006). Correlation. Web.
Wong, B. & Hideki, K. & Anderson, C., & Skaarsgard, F. (2009). Memory test among genders with chocolate. Journal of Alternative Medicine, 32(1), 156-220.