A new study has revealed how color influences perception by influencing the taste of food in adults, especially the picky eaters.
At the center of this study the “picky” behavior, even in adulthood, towards some foods. This behavior should be discouraged as limited food intake can increase health risks, including nutritional deficiencies and related diseases. For this reason it is important to understand what are the factors that lead to the categorical avoidance of certain foods, and it is on this that part of the research focuses.
Previous studies have focused on the smell and texture of food, but little is known about other multisensory characteristics, such as color . Therefore, some psychologists of the University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom, have conducted a study which saw the participation of 47 volunteers divided into two groups: “picky” and “not picky”. The subdivision was made based on answers given to questions on the subject of ” food neophobia “, a terminology used to describe the aversion attitude assumed towards new foods. They then completed a taste sensitivity test (PROP) followed by a tasting taskof food, in which they tasted the same snack served in three different colored bowls (red, blue and white).
While for the ‘non-picky’, color made no difference in perceived taste, the ‘picky’ reported changes in their taste sensations based on the color of the bowl used.
Results revealed that both perceived saltiness and snack desirability were influenced by color in the picky-eater group, but not in the non-picky group. Notably, the snack was judged to be more salty in the red and blue bowls than in the white one, and less desirable when served in the red bowl . These findings are in line with previous studies, the researchers suggest that the confections participants are most familiar with may have influenced their taste buds. Indeed, in the UK, savory snacks are often sold in blue packaging.
According to Lorenzo Stafford, of the University of Portsmouth and author of the study, learning more about how to influence the behavior of people who struggle to eat a wide range of foods could significantly improve the quality of life both for the individuals themselves and for those who surrounds them. According to the study team, this new research could help treat food neophobia, but more studies on a wider range of colors and a wider range of more nutritious foods will be needed.
- How color influences taste perception in adult picky eaters. (sciencedirect.com)