More than meets the tongue

Feb 12, 2007

Does orange juice taste sweeter if it's a brighter orange? A new study in the March issue of the Journal of Consumer Research finds that the color of a drink can influence how we think it tastes. In fact, the researchers found that color was more of an influence on how taste was perceived than quality or price information.

"Perceptual discrimination is fundamental to rational choice in many product categories yet rarely examined in consumer research," write JoAndrea Hoegg (University of British Columbia) and Joseph W. Alba (University of Florida). "The present research investigates discrimination as it pertains to consumers' ability to identify difference—or the lack thereof—among gustatory stimuli."

Hoegg and Alba are the first to look at how individual attributes -- such as color, price, or brand -- can affect which products we prefer. The researchers manipulated orange juice by changing color (with food coloring), sweetness (with sugar), or by labeling the cups with brand and quality information. They found that though brand name influenced people's preferences for one cup of juice over another, labeling one cup a premium brand and the other an inexpensive store brand had no effect on perceptions of taste.

In contrast, the tint of the orange juice had a huge effect on the taster's perceptions of taste. As the authors put it: "Color dominated taste."

Given two cups of the same Tropicana orange juice, with one cup darkened with food coloring, the members of the researcher's sample group perceived differences in taste that did not exist. However, when given two cups of orange juice that were the same color, with one cup sweetened with sugar, the same people failed to perceive taste differences.

"It seems unlikely that our consumers deliberately eschewed taste for color as a basis for discrimination," write the authors. "Moreover, our consumers succumbed to the influence of color but were less influenced by the powerful lure of brand and price information."

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: Best of Last Week – Evidence of quark-gluon interactions, new portable device hack and why we may never live forever

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ocean garbage frustrates search for Flight 370

Mar 31, 2014

Sometimes the object spotted in the water is a snarled fishing line. Or a buoy. Or something that might once have been the lid to an ice box. Not once—not yet at least—has it been a clue.

A promising fruit: The tree tomato

Feb 26, 2013

A researcher at the UPM is collaborating in the characterization of genetic resource of the tree tomato to enhance its cultivation and commercialization in Andean and Mediterranean countries.

Man celebrates 85 years of living with diabetes

May 30, 2011

(AP) -- When Bob Krause turned 90 last week, it was by virtue of an unflagging determination and a mentality of precision that kept his body humming after being diagnosed with diabetes as a boy.

Recommended for you

Computer games give a boost to English

8 hours ago

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

13 hours ago

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

Oldest representative of a weird arthropod group

13 hours ago

Biologists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have assigned a number of 435-million-year-old fossils to a new genus of predatory arthropods. These animals lived in shallow marine habitats ...

User comments : 0