Thread: Ask a Scientist
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Old 19.02.2021, 18:51
doropfiz doropfiz is offline
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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It's all very subjective though, only very specific aspects of it are measurable.
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How much of these likes or dislikes stem from exposure and upbringing is unclear, but there is certainly a connection - you won't find many desert-island dwellers who dislike fish, for example.
Yes. Also expectation. I once participated in an experiment about visual stimulation of gustatory expectation and texture and flavour of foods. As the reason to mask the experiment, we were told that the purpose was to collect descriptive vocabulary about food.

First, we were shown known foods, behind glass, at a distance so that we could not and did not expect to be able to smell them. All the subjects waited in one room, while one subject was called in to the food room, to sample each of those foods and describe the taste. Once one had participated, one was to go and sit in the darkened part of the room, in absolute silence, to watch each next participant.

Well, that was a surprise! The foods had been recreated with fantastic attention to detail to look like something one would know and expect, but they were, in fact, made of completely different substances. For example, what looked like guacamole was made of peas, what looked like spaghetti bolognese did contain spaghetti but was made of chocolate, what looked like a nutty, granola chocolate cake was made of beef mince-meat, what looked like a mayonniase dip to go with salty crackers was made of banana and cream, what looked like a strawberry milkshake was made of beetroot, and so on. The switches were especially across the line of salty and sweet.

The reactions were very, very funny. As soon as I took a bite, I spat the food out. The contradiction between anticipated flavour and the real taste and texture was so unexpected that my system rebelled and behaved as if the food were rotten. There were about 30 or 40 of us, and almost everyone spat out the food, or gagged, irresistably. This was so even after trying the third or fourth item, i.e. once one had understood that the foods were distorted. The very few who managed to swallow that single bite, later said it had taken huge self-control, motivated mainly by not wanting to appear rude to the testers.

There was a control group who were blindfolded. They were not told what they were going to be tasting, and found all the foods tasty, acceptable or tolerable, identifying them more or less correctly (except for the beetroot milkshake).
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