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We report two experiments designed to investigate the consequences of manipulating the harmonic content of background music on taste perception. The participants in the present study evaluated samples of mixed fruit juice whilst listening to soundtracks that had either been harmonised with consonant or dissonant musical intervals. Each sample of juice was rated on three computer-based scales: One scale was anchored with the words sour and sweet, while the other two scales involved hedonic ratings of the music and of the juice. The results of an internet-based pre-test revealed that participants reliably associated the consonant soundtracks with sweetness and the dissonant soundtracks with sourness. The results of the on-site experiments demonstrated that participants rated the juices as tasting significantly sweeter in the consonant than in the dissonant music condition, irrespective of the melody or instrumentation that were evaluated. These results therefore provide empirical support for the claim that the crossmodal correspondence between a higher level musical attribute (namely, harmony) and basic taste can be used to modify the evaluation of the taste of a drink.

In: Multisensory Research

We explored the putative existence of crossmodal correspondences between sound attributes and beverage temperature. An online pre-study was conducted first, in order to determine whether people would associate the auditory parameters of pitch and tempo with different imagined beverage temperatures. The same melody was manipulated to create a matrix of 25 variants with five different levels of both pitch and tempo. The participants were instructed to imagine consuming hot, room-temperature, or cold water, then to choose the melody that best matched the imagined drinking experience. The results revealed that imagining drinking cold water was associated with a significantly higher pitch than drinking both room-temperature and hot water, and with significantly faster tempo than room-temperature water. Next, the online study was replicated with participants in the lab tasting samples of hot, room-temperature, and cold water while choosing a melody that best matched the actual tasting experience. The results confirmed that, compared to room-temperature and hot water, the experience of cold water was associated with both significantly higher pitch and fast tempo. Possible mechanisms and potential applications of these results are discussed.

In: Multisensory Research
What we hear before and/or while we eat and drink often affects our tasting experiences. The focus of Auditory Contributions to Food Perception and Consume Behaviour is to provide a state-of-the-art summary on how such music and ambient inputs can influence our expectations, our purchasing behaviour, as well as our product experience. Much of the research collected together in this volume relates to ‘sonic seasoning’: This is where music/soundscapes are especially chosen, or else designed/composed, in order to correspond to, and hence hopefully to modify the associated taste/aroma/mouthfeel/flavour in food and beverages. The various chapters collected together in this volume provide a state-of-the-art summary of this intriguing and emerging field of research, as well as highlighting some of the key directions for future research. Contributors are Sue Bastian, Thadeus L. Beekman, Jo Burzynska, Andrew Childress, Ilja Croijmans, Silvana Dakduk , Alexandra Fiegel, Apratim Guha, Ryuta Kawashima, Bruno Mesz, Kosuke Motoki, Rui Nouchi, Felipe Reinoso-Carvalho, Pablo Riera, Marijn Peters Rit, Toshiki Saito, Han-Seok Seo, Mariano Sigman, Laura J. Speed, Charles Spence, Motoaki Sugiura, Marcos Trevisan, Carlos Velasco, Johan Wagemans, and Qian Janice Wang.

Abstract

Food product-extrinsic sounds (i.e., those auditory stimuli that are not linked directly to a food or beverage product, or its packaging) have been shown to exert a significant influence over various aspects of food perception and consumer behaviour, often operating outside of conscious awareness. In this review, we summarise the latest evidence concerning the various ways in which what we hear can influence what we taste. According to one line of empirical research, background noise interferes with tasting, due to attentional distraction. A separate body of marketing-relevant research demonstrates that music can be used to bias consumers’ food perception, judgments, and purchasing/consumption behaviour in various ways. Some of these effects appear to be driven by the arousal elicited by loud music as well as the entrainment of people’s behaviour to the musical beat. However, semantic priming effects linked to the type and style of music are also relevant. Another route by which music influences food perception comes from the observation that our liking/preference for the music that we happen to be listening to carries over to influence our hedonic judgments of what we are tasting. A final route by which hearing influences tasting relates to the emerging field of ‘sonic seasoning’. A developing body of research now demonstrates that people often rate tasting experiences differently when listening to soundtracks that have been designed to be (or are chosen because they are) congruent with specific flavour experiences (e.g., when compared to when listening to other soundtracks, or else when tasting in silence). Taken together, such results lead to the growing realization that the crossmodal influences of music and noise on food perception and consumer behaviour may have some important if, as yet, unrecognized implications for public health.

In: Multisensory Research

Abstract

Associations between heaviness and bass/low-pitched sounds reverberate throughout music, philosophy, literature, and language. Given that recent research into the field of cross-modal correspondences has revealed a number of robust relationships between sound and flavour, this exploratory study was designed to investigate the effects of lower frequency sound (10 Hz to 200 Hz) on the perception of the mouthfeel character of palate weight/body. This is supported by an overview of relevant cross-modal studies and cultural production. Wines were the tastants — a New Zealand Pinot Noir and a Spanish Garnacha — which were tasted in silence and with a 100 Hz (bass) and a higher 1000 Hz sine wave tone. Aromatic intensity was included as an additional character given suggestions that pitch may influence the perception of aromas, which might presumably affect the perception of wine body. Intensity of acidity and liking were also evaluated. The results revealed that the Pinot Noir wine was rated as significantly fuller-bodied when tasted with a bass frequency than in silence or with a higher frequency sound. The low frequency stimulus also resulted in the Garnacha wine being rated as significantly more aromatically intense than when tasted in the presence of the higher frequency auditory stimulus. Acidity was rated considerably higher with the higher frequency in both wines by those with high wine familiarity and the Pinot Noir significantly better liked than the Garnacha. Possible reasons as to why the tones used in this study affected perception of the two wines differently are discussed. Practical application of the findings are also proposed.

In: Multisensory Research
In: Auditory Contributions to Food Perception and Consumer Behaviour

Abstract

Food product-extrinsic sounds (i.e., those auditory stimuli that are not linked directly to a food or beverage product, or its packaging) have been shown to exert a significant influence over various aspects of food perception and consumer behaviour, often operating outside of conscious awareness. In this review, we summarise the latest evidence concerning the various ways in which what we hear can influence what we taste. According to one line of empirical research, background noise interferes with tasting, due to attentional distraction. A separate body of marketing-relevant research demonstrates that music can be used to bias consumers’ food perception, judgments, and purchasing/consumption behaviour in various ways. Some of these effects appear to be driven by the arousal elicited by loud music as well as the entrainment of people’s behaviour to the musical beat. However, semantic priming effects linked to the type and style of music are also relevant. Another route by which music influences food perception comes from the observation that our liking/preference for the music that we happen to be listening to carries over to influence our hedonic judgments of what we are tasting. A final route by which hearing influences tasting relates to the emerging field of ‘sonic seasoning’. A developing body of research now demonstrates that people often rate tasting experiences differently when listening to soundtracks that have been designed to be (or are chosen because they are) congruent with specific flavour experiences (e.g., when compared to when listening to other soundtracks, or else when tasting in silence). Taken together, such results lead to the growing realization that the crossmodal influences of music and noise on food perception and consumer behaviour may have some important if, as yet, unrecognized implications for public health.

In: Auditory Contributions to Food Perception and Consumer Behaviour

Abstract

Associations between heaviness and bass/low-pitched sounds reverberate throughout music, philosophy, literature, and language. Given that recent research into the field of cross-modal correspondences has revealed a number of robust relationships between sound and flavour, this exploratory study was designed to investigate the effects of lower frequency sound (10 Hz to 200 Hz) on the perception of the mouthfeel character of palate weight/body. This is supported by an overview of relevant cross-modal studies and cultural production. Wines were the tastants — a New Zealand Pinot Noir and a Spanish Garnacha — which were tasted in silence and with a 100 Hz (bass) and a higher 1000 Hz sine wave tone. Aromatic intensity was included as an additional character given suggestions that pitch may influence the perception of aromas, which might presumably affect the perception of wine body. Intensity of acidity and liking were also evaluated. The results revealed that the Pinot Noir wine was rated as significantly fuller-bodied when tasted with a bass frequency than in silence or with a higher frequency sound. The low frequency stimulus also resulted in the Garnacha wine being rated as significantly more aromatically intense than when tasted in the presence of the higher frequency auditory stimulus. Acidity was rated considerably higher with the higher frequency in both wines by those with high wine familiarity and the Pinot Noir significantly better liked than the Garnacha. Possible reasons as to why the tones used in this study affected perception of the two wines differently are discussed. Practical application of the findings are also proposed.

In: Auditory Contributions to Food Perception and Consumer Behaviour

Abstract

Several studies have examined how music may affect the evaluation of food and drink, but the vast majority have not observed how this interaction unfolds in time. This seems to be quite relevant, since both music and the consumer experience of food/drink are time-varying in nature. In the present study we sought to fix this gap, using Temporal Dominance of Sensations (TDS), a method developed to record the dominant sensory attribute at any given moment in time, to examine the impact of music on the wine taster’s perception. More specifically, we assessed how the same red wine might be experienced differently when tasters were exposed to various sonic environments (two pieces of music plus a silent control condition). The results revealed diverse patterns of dominant flavours for each sound condition, with significant differences in flavour dominance in each music condition as compared to the silent control condition. Moreover, musical correspondence analysis revealed that differences in perceived dominance of acidity and bitterness in the wine were correlated in the temporality of the experience, with changes in basic auditory attributes. Potential implications for the role of attention in auditory flavour modification and opportunities for future studies are discussed.

In: Auditory Contributions to Food Perception and Consumer Behaviour