Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Can noise effect taste?

There have been a some articles to explain why airplane food sucks so much. While trying to find out what basis The New York Times and NPR had for this statement I found an experiment done at The University of Manchester. These experimenters got 48 participants to try different foods while blindfolded and then subjected them to different sounds. The participants were exposed to low level white noise, high level white noise, or no noise (there was a small amount of noise from outside the room but the statistics were controlled for this factor). The participants were asked if they enjoyed the snacks and the condition they tasted (salty, sweet, or neutral). The participants reported being able to taste the condition more clearly while they herd less noise. The participants also reported liking the snacks more while exposed to less noise. So basically the experimenters found a negative correlation between the variables: noise level went up and "liking" went down. This is why Airplane food sucks so much.

Effect of background noise on food perception Original Research Article
Food Quality and Preference, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 10 July 2010
A.T. Woods, E. Poliakoff, D.M. Lloyd, J. Kuenzel, R. Hodson, H. Gonda, J. Batchelor, G.B. Dijksterhuis, A. Thomas

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed your article. The experiment was interesting and the three condition design of the different tastes gave way to different variation. The experimenters conducted a correlation study so in the end the results cannot be used to determine cause and effect. There is evidence that the distaste in airplane food could be due to the amount of noise being experienced on the plane, however this experiment does not prove this inevitably. Many other factors could contribute to this habit.