Active touch experienced by the hand and mouth can influence the evaluation of the taste of food. The purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of a passive body touch experience on the perceived intensity of spiciness.
This study includes three experiments. In Experiment 1, 32 college students tasted half of one piece of spicy bean curd while sitting on either a hard wooden chair or a soft padded chair. Experiment 2 was conducted using the blindfold method to avoid the influence of visual cues on taste, keeping the other details the same as in Experiment 1. Experiment 3 was performed with two changes from Experiment 2: the participants were blindfolded immediately before entering the lab from the waiting room to completely block all visual cues for the experimental materials, and armless stools were used to eliminate the passive touch on the participants’ backs.
All three experiments consistently found that the participants sitting on the soft padded chair or the soft armless stool perceived the spicy bean curd as significantly spicier than those sitting on the hard wooden chair or the hard armless stool.
These results preliminarily support the hypothesis that a crossmodal correspondence exists between passive body touch and sense of taste (especially spiciness, as in this study), demonstrating the importance of passive body touch and, more generally, of the touchable features in places where food is consumed, such as hotels, restaurants and bars.
The authors would like to acknowledge National Natural Science Foundation of China: 71502057; and National Natural Science Foundation of China: NSFC (71540014).
The funding, HNSSKP (2017ZK3054) from the Soft Science Key Project of Hunan Province, is highly related to this study and it was also supported in part by this project.
Tu, Y., Ma, C., Wu, Y. and Yang, Z. (2018), "Passive body touch and perceived intensity of spice: softer means spicier", British Food Journal, Vol. 120 No. 4, pp. 864-875. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-02-2017-0118Download as .RIS
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