Those who have played Tetris know that trying to arrange different shaped blocks into perfect lines can be so satisfying. And while we know it’s a great way to pass the time, psychologists from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology have discovered that playing Tetris for as little as three minutes per day can weaken cravings for not only food but also for drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, coffee, even sex!
In a report published in the international journal Addictive Behaviors, Professor Jackie Andrade from the School of Psychology and the Congnition Institue of Plymouth University found that playing Tetris decreased craving strength for drugs, food, and other activities from 70 per cent to 56 per cent. Professor Andrade says,”We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity. Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery; it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time.”
The week-long experiment involved 31 students being prompted 7 times a day to report on any cravings they were feeling and being monitored for the intensity levels of cravings they were having. Fifteen members of the group were required to play Tetris for three minutes before reporting their cravings levels again. Cravings were reported in 30 per cent of occasions, the most common cravings were for food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Professor Jon May from Plymouth University who also worked on the report, says that the impact of playing Tetris on cravings was consistent. The game was played 40 times on average but the effect did not wear off. The finding could potentially assist people in managing their cravings on a day to day basis and over a long term period.