You're better off getting less Halloween candy this year — but not for the reason you might think.
A couple of years ago, researchers at Dartmouth did an interesting study with trick-or-treaters. They gave one set a full-size candy bar and told them they were done trick-or-treating, and then they gave a second set a full-size candy bar and a piece of bubble gum. You'd think that the kids that got two pieces of candy would be happier about their haul, but it turns out you'd be wrong.
Because standard bubble gum is generally a pretty crappy piece of candy to get when you are trick-or-treating, the kids who ended their experience with the piece of gum rated their overall experience lower than the students who ended their experience with just the candy bar — because, really, how awesome is it to get a full size candy bar? Those neighbors were always the best.
Now, to be fair, this was just an example in a larger study about how people evaluate pleasurable and painful experiences that concluded that those that end an experience on a positive note tend to rate the overall experience as more pleasurable regardless of the rest of the experience.
But the message for Halloween is clear: Parents, if you want to end your kid's trick-or-treating experience early and still keep them happy, just give your neighbor some kick-ass candy and have your kids knock on their door. Then, you can take your kids right home and tuck them into bed before your feet get tired and some punk teenager throws eggs at your door because you weren't home. Your kids will be happy, and so will you.
If you don't have kids, there's still a message for you too. Finish the night with an awesome drink at your Halloween party, and then peace out before things get weird. The night will still be awesome, and you'll retain your dignity.
Don't you love psychology?